Archive for September 28th, 2006|Daily archive page

UK launches nanotechnology reporting scheme to “assess risks”

In Health, nano on September 28, 2006 at 7:09 pm

UK launches nanotechnology reporting scheme to “assess risks”

By Ahmed ElAmin and Kirsty Barnes

27/09/2006 – UK research organisations, biopharmaceutical and food manufacturers, along with those in other industries are been asked to voluntarily provide any information on nanotechnologies they are working on, under a programme launched this week.

The new two-year scheme is part of the UK government’s bid to assess the risks that nanotechnology may pose to the public and could eventually lead to regulations restricting applications in certain sectors.

Nanotechnology has been touted as the next revolution in many industries, including food and drug manufacturing and packaging. However, concerns are being raised over the unknown consequences of digesting or injecting nano-scale particles designed to behave in specific way in the body.

In launching the voluntary reporting scheme, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it wanted to work toward assessing any potential risks posed by the products of nanotechnologies.

“There is currently very little information available on the potential risks that these materials may pose to the environment and human health,” Defra stated. “The scheme is designed, together with a programme of government research, to address this knowledge deficit.”

Michael Pitkethly, chairman of the UK’s Nanotechnologies Industry Association (NIA), said the scheme is important to ensuring that industry has appropriate controls in place for engineered materials at the nanoscale.

“The safety of these materials is of paramount importance to the NIA and the scheme aligns with the NIA’s advocacy of a measured and responsible approach and has our full support,” he stated.

Nanotechnology refers to the application of properties materials have at the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale. A human hair is 80,000 nanometres (nm) wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a water molecule 0.3 nm wide.

Earlier this year the UK’s Council for Science and Technology (CST) – the UK government’s advisory body on science and technology policy issues – launched an independent review of its nanotechnology policy over concerns about the health and environmental risks.

The review will cover the government’s actions in the two years since their policy response to a study by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering that considered the possible health, social, ethical, safety and environmental questions that could be raised by nanotechnologies.

The CST said it plans to publish its report in spring 2007. The deadline for submissions is 2 October 2006.

The CST review also follows a report in May by the country’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), which said gaps existed in EU legislation in regulating the future uses of nanotechnology.

The gaps include those relating to particle size, the use of nano versions of already approved ingredients, and to packaging, according to the FSA’s legislative review of the food sector.

In addition Defra on 23 June completed a consultation on a proposed voluntary reporting scheme for engineered nanoscale materials.

Other regulators worldwide are also in the process of reviewing policy and regulations relating to the technology. This year Germany’s food safety risk assessment agency commissioned a study on on the risks of nanotechnological applications in food, cosmetics and other everyday items.

Incidentally, a public survey taken last year by the European Commission across the EU found widespread support for medical and industrial biotechnologies. While there is opposition in most European countries to agricultural biotechnologes, such as genetically-modified (GM) food, the European public mainly supports the development of nanotechnologies, pharmacogenetics and gene therapy, the survey found.

All three technologies “are perceived as useful to society and morally acceptable”, the Eurobarometer survey found. “Neither nanotechnology nor pharmcogenetics are perceived to be risky.”

Link to Source Drug Researcher.Com

Stealth nanoparticles for long term in vivo drug treatment

In nano on September 28, 2006 at 7:06 pm

(Nanowerk Spotlight) Phagocytosis is a cellular phenomena that describes the process in which phagocytes (specialized cells such as macrophages) destroy viruses and foreign particles in blood. Phagocytes are an important part of the immune system. Unfortunately, phagocytes are also a major limitation for the intravenous delivery of polymeric nanoparticles. The use of such nanoparticles to deliver therapeutic agents is currently being studied as a promising method by which drugs can be effectively targeted to specific cells in the body, such as cancerous cells. Researchers at Penn State are trying to trick the body’s immune system, and increase the circulation time of nano drug carriers in the blood, with stealth drug nanoparticles that could be fabricated by self-assembling a shell on the surface of a solid drug core. This research could lead to the possibility of long term drug treatment in vivo.
Nanoparticles become recognizable to the cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS), and are subsequently cleared from circulation by phagocytosis, through a process called opsonization. An opsonin is a proteinaceous molecule that acts as a binding enhancer for the process of phagocytosis. Phagocytic cells express receptors that bind opsonin molecules.

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Nanoflowers blossom

In nano on September 28, 2006 at 7:04 pm

(Nanowerk News) University of Arkansas researchers have examined the mechanisms underlying the synthesis of three-dimensional nanocrystals in solution and have created a systematic method for the directed synthesis of such nanocrystals.

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Should We Make Cyborg Soldiers?

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2006 at 7:01 pm

TEchnology Review
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A group of ethicists is getting $250,000 to ask how much we should use nanotechnology to enhance humans.

By Kevin Bullis

Should we implant future nanotech-enabled computers and actuators into soldiers to make them more effective? If nanotech can help kids do better in school, are parents obligated to provide them with it? Does it make a difference if these enhancements are implanted, rather than just worn outside the body?

Patrick Lin, director of The Nanoethics Group, James Moor at Dartmouth University, and Fritz Allhoff at Western Michigan University have been given a quarter-million dollars, in the form of a pair of grants from the National Science Foundation, to try sorting out the answers to these kinds of questions.

In a press release, Lin said, “Today, human enhancement may mean steroids or Viagra or cosmetic surgeries. But with the accelerating pace of technology, some of the more fantastic scenarios may arrive sooner than people think.”

The Nanoethics Group has previously considered subjects such as the potential environmental and health impacts of nanotech.

I’m personally looking forward to the report, especially its list of cool, hypothetical human-enhancement technologies. (U.S. cyclists are probably looking forward to it, too.)

Designer babies’growing popular

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2006 at 6:40 pm

Designer babies’growing popular
Many couples choose embryo based on sex

The Associated Presss
September 24. 2006 10:00AM

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Internet everywhere by 2020, but at what cost?

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2006 at 6:28 pm

September 27, 2006
Internet everywhere by 2020, but at what cost? (Yahoo! India News)
September 27, 2006 01:18 AM Read more…
San Francisco, Sep 27 (DPA) A survey of technologists has found almost unanimous agreement that a low-cost Internet will be available to the majority of the world’s population by 2020, but also uncovered disagreement about the impact of the pervasive technology.
Permalink | Filed under society

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