Nanotoxicity Research

General Research Directives

Nanotoxicology is a field of study centered on trying to understand how nanomaterials may affect cellular function and their degree of toxicity. Because of their small size (1-100 nanometers), nanomaterials oftentimes exhibit unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties. Although not well understood, it is thought that these properties may be related to the increased surface area to volume, chemical composition, shape, surface structure, surface charge, aggregation and solubility.

The Primary Nanotoxicity research focus falls under the following three areas.

  • Toxicity Screening
  • Industrial Exposure Standardization
  • Environmental Impact
  • One area of intense interest is whether or not nanomaterials may lead to the increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which could lead to inflammation and damage to cellular proteins, membranes and DNA. In addition, some nanoparticles exhibit the ability to translocate from their site of deposition to distant sites such as the blood and the brain. As the use of nanomaterials increases worldwide, concerns for worker and user safety are mounting. From health point of view it is important to identifying the presence and interaction of manufactured nanomaterials with the environment and within the food chain.

    Using several different types of cultured cells and model organisms such as C. elegans and V. fischeri we are currently studying nanoparticle uptake into cells and how this process may be related to cellular damage and toxicity. It is hoped that the outcomes of these efforts will increase our understanding of how nanoparticles may affect the environment and mammalian cell function.

    Using several different types of cultured cells and model organisms such as C. elegans and V. fischeri we are currently studying nanoparticle uptake into cells and how this process may be related to cellular damage and toxicity. It is hoped that the outcomes of these efforts will increase our understanding of how nanoparticles may affect the environment and mammalian cell function.

    Images of lipofusion graule accumulation with stress bundle unloading molecular cargo.