Nanoparticles lower toxicity

| May 30, 2017

Chemists at the Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU) in Mainz, Germany, have developed a technique that reduces the toxic effects of commercially available cigarettes, according to a story at physorg.com.

‘Tobacco smoke contains almost 12,000 different constituents,’ the story said. ‘Among these are narcotoxic substances such as nicotine, blood toxins like cyanide and carbon monoxide, not to mention the various carcinogens. Among these are free oxygen radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species. More than 10 quadrillion (1016) of these molecules are inhaled with every puff on a cigarette.’

The Mainz-based team headed by Professor Wolfgang Tremel said that it had discovered how to lower significantly the levels of these free oxygen radicals and thus markedly reduce the toxicity of cigarette smoke.

Researchers took the underlying idea behind the concept from natural enzymes. In the presence of an enhanced concentration of reactive oxygen species as a result of, for instance, tobacco smoke, uncontrolled cell division and oxidative cell damage can occur. Nature regulates the concentration of radicals by means of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), which plays a central role in the prevention of pathological processes. The naturally occurring enzyme utilizes metals such as copper-zinc, nickel, iron, and manganese as reactive centers that cause oxygen radicals to decompose so that the organism is protected from their aggressive reactive behavior.

The story said the team of chemists in Mainz had been collaborating with a group headed by Professor Jürgen Brieger of the Mainz University Medical Center to determine whether it were possible to integrate functionalized copper hydroxide nanoparticles in cigarette filters and thus reduce levels of free radicals in smoke, hence providing smokers with greater protection against their toxic potential.

Cytotoxicity tests had shown that the cigarette smoke extracts in examined concentrations no longer had a toxic effect on human cells after passing through cigarette filters containing nanoparticles, while there had been increased toxicity in the case of controls in which untreated filters were employed.

The researchers in Mainz had thus been able to demonstrate that imitating natural defense mechanisms with the help of nanoparticles was possible and that a reduction in the toxic effects of various types of smoke could be achieved.

The researchers’ report was published in the scientific journal Nanoscale.

The physorg.com story is at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-copper-hydroxide-nanoparticles-toxic-oxygen.html

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Category: Breaking News, Filters, Harm reduction, Next-generation products, Science, Technology

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