Monday, February 14, 2011

Bigger is Always Better Right???

As the years roll by science is explained not from the macrosystem, but rather the microsystem...and recently the "nano-system." One of the most interesting topics in science is that of nanoparticles. These tiny, extremely tiny particles, have been used in many ways such as antimicrobrials in food and specifically silver nanoparticles have been used as antimicrobials in clothes. There is even discussion about using nanoparticles as a way to deliver pharmaceuticals with the possibility of enhancing cancer therapy. With such an interesting and potentially useful method to combat many issues driving today's world, nothing could go wrong...right???

Well, I want to say that nanoparticle research is needed, especially within research and development, but I just want to remind everyone that these small particles may in fact have some toxic effects as well. In fact these tiny particles have been shown to have a much different toxicity than other toxicants because their size allows them to cross membranes that other toxicants are unable to cross. Even more alarming is that most of these nanoparticles do not show a toxic effect until much later than the individual has been exposed. So end story is nanoparticles are dangerous...right??? Well the answer in my opinion is NO and yes. Nanoparticles are just a topic that needs more research both in regards with developing beneficial uses as well as understanding the possible negative drawbacks. Luckily both sides are being dealt with, and it just comes down to the general public being aware of the research. Another big benefit is that there is no scarcity of information available to everyone if you look on the Internet.

So what is the take home message of this whole nanoparticle rant besides me hopefully wanting you to get interested in it? Well I hope whenever you read a news or scientific article you look at in two different ways: the microsystem level and the big picture level. How does this small piece of the puzzle fit into the big picture of it all? What is that little detail that I see? Those are the questions you should be asking, and many times I feel like they get lost in the discussion sometimes. So these nanoparticles, sure they may cure cancer, but is there a possibility that these may cause cancer too?

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