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Luminous Molecules Help to Detect Toxicity of Nanomaterials
November 27, 2017 13:50

Bioluminescent molecules have been isolated from marine bacteria Vibrio fischeri.
Scientists from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) and the Federal Research Center "Krasnoyarsk Scientific Center of the SB RAS" have developed a test system based on bioluminescent molecules to assess the toxicity of nanomaterials, the SFU press service reports.
Luminous molecules were isolated by researchers from marine bacteria Vibrio fischeri. In the future, the technology can be modified for a wider range of nanomaterials. The article with the research results was published in the Toxicology in Vitro journal.
“The method stands out with the ease of use, high sensitivity and quickness of the result”, - the press release reads. Modern nanomaterials, such as, for example, nanotubes and fullerenes, are increasingly used in medicine, perfumes, cosmetics and food industry. As scientists write in their study, these may be toxic, but it is difficult to measure their toxicity due to the properties of the materials themselves – the size, structure, surface properties and chemical composition.
Scientists of SFU suggested using luminous substances from marine luminescent bacteria to detect toxicity. They developed a test system, which is a small disc with molecules of bioluminescent enzymes. Analyzed samples are placed on a disk, and after a few minutes it starts glowing: the brightness of this glow indicates the level of toxicity.
The first results have shown that multi-walled carbon nanotubes exhibit the greatest toxicity. They are followed with single-walled nanotubes and only then fullerenes. However, noticeable toxicity is observed only with the concentrations of substances much higher than those found in nature. However, with the growth of the nanoindustry, carbon materials are already produced artificially in large volumes.
In recent years, carbon nanotubes have been extensively used in a variety of areas - from electronics to the automotive industry. They are graphene “sheets” (i.e. modification of carbon laid in a one atom thick plane) folded into cylinders. In the case of multi-walled tubes, such cylinders can be nested in a different way. Technologies for the artificial synthesis of carbon nanotubes are developing rapidly, and their application is going to expand more and more overtime. Therefore, the task of assessing their toxicity is extremely urgent, since there is still much unknown about the interaction of nanomaterials with living cells, including the human body.


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Nanomaterials     

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