Researchers in China have identified how nanoparticles-- ployamidoamine dendrimers or PAMAMs - used in medicine can cause lung cancer.
Nanotechnology is essentially the science of the "extremely tiny" - one nanometre being one-billionth of a metre - and is an important industry. The study, nevertheless, implies that though the fledgling science is promising in terms of noteworthy advances in the field of science and medicine, the concerns about its safety cannot be overlooked.
The researchers in an article published in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, said a class of nanoparticles used in medicine, ployamidoamine dendrimers (PAMAMs), may cause lung damage by triggering a type of programed cell death known as autophagic cell death.
On the basis of the experiments conducted by the team of researchers, whereby they observed how different types of PAMAMs exterminated human lung cells; however, without finding evidence that the cells were dying their natural death, which is called apoptosis.
Lead researcher, Chengyu Jiang - a molecular biologist at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing - said that the study "provides us with a promising lead for developing strategies to prevent lung damage caused by nanoparticles."
"Nanomedicine holds extraordinary promise, particularly for diseases such as cancer and viral infections.
"But safety concerns have recently attracted great attention and with the technology evolving rapidly, we need to start finding ways now to protect workers and consumers from any toxic effects that might come with it."
"The idea is that, to increase the safety of nanomedicine, compounds could be developed that could either be incorporated into the nano product to protect against lung damage, or patients could be given pills to counteract the effects," said Dr Jiang.