Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential benefits and threats of nanotechnology research

Date:
January 25, 2013
Source:
University of Notre Dame
Summary:
A new article tackles the complex "dual-use" aspect of nanotechnology research.

Every day scientists learn more about how the world works at the smallest scales. While this knowledge has the potential to help others, it's possible that the same discoveries can also be used in ways that cause widespread harm.

A new article in the journal Nanomedicine, born out of a Federal Bureau of Investigation workshop held at the University of Notre Dame in September 2012, tackles this complex "dual-use" aspect of nanotechnology research.

"The rapid pace of breakthroughs in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and other fields, holds the promise of great improvements in areas such as medical diagnosis and treatment" says Kathleen Eggleson, a research scientist in Notre Dame's Center for Nano Science and Technology and the author of the study.

"But the risk of misuse of these breakthroughs rises along with the potential benefit. This is the essence of the 'dual-use dilemma.'"

The report examines the potential for nano-sized particles (which are measured in billionths of a meter) to breach the blood-brain barrier, the tightly knit layers of cells that afford the brain the highest level of protection -- from microorganisms, harmful molecules, etc. -- in the human body. Some neuroscientists are purposefully engineering nanoparticles that can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) so as to deliver medicines in a targeted and controlled way directly to diseased parts of the brain.

At the same time, the report notes, "nanoparticles designed to cross the BBB constitute a serious threat…in the context of combat." For example, it is theorized that "aerosol delivery" of some nano-engineered agent in "a crowded indoor space" could cause serious harm to many people at once.

The problem of dual-use research was highlighted last year when controversy erupted over the publication of findings that indicate how, with a handful modifications, the H5N1 influenza virus ("bird flu") can be altered in a way that would enable it to be transmitted between mammalian populations.

After a self-imposed one-year moratorium on this research, several laboratories around the world announced that they will restart the work in early 2013.

The FBI is actively responding to these developments in the scientific community.

"The law enforcement-security community seeks to strengthen the existing dialogue with researchers," William So of the FBI's Biological Countermeasures Unit says in the study.

"Science flourishes because of the open and collaborative atmosphere for sharing and discussing ideas. The FBI believes this model can do the same for our two communities…[and] create effective safeguards for science and national interests."

The scientists and engineers who conduct nanoscale research have the ability and responsibility to consider the public safety aspects of their research and to act to protect society when necessary, argues Eggleson.

"The relationship between science and society is an uneasy one, but it is undeniable on the whole and not something any individual can opt out of in the name of progress for humanity's benefit," she says.

"Thought about dual-use, and action when appropriate, is inherent to socially responsible practice of nanobiomedical science."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Notre Dame. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kathleen Eggleson. Dual-use nanoresearch of concern: Recognizing threat and safeguarding the power of nanobiomedical research advances in the wake of the H5N1 controversy. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.nano.2012.12.001

Cite This Page:

University of Notre Dame. "Potential benefits and threats of nanotechnology research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130125154815.htm>.
University of Notre Dame. (2013, January 25). Potential benefits and threats of nanotechnology research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130125154815.htm
University of Notre Dame. "Potential benefits and threats of nanotechnology research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130125154815.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Patents Contact Lens Cameras; Internet Is Wary

Google Patents Contact Lens Cameras; Internet Is Wary

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) Google has filed for a patent to develop contact lenses capable of taking photos. The company describes possible benefits to blind people. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) A Dutch highway has become the first lit by glow-in-the-dark paint — a project aimed at reducing street light use. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Buys Drone Maker, Hopes to Connect Rural World

Google Buys Drone Maker, Hopes to Connect Rural World

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Formerly courted by Facebook, Titan Aerospace will become a part of Google's quest to blanket the world in Internet connectivity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins