University of Kentucky Receives $2 Million Grant to Study Nanoparticles

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday the award of a $2 million grant to the University of Kentucky to study nanoparticles. This is the largest EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant ever awarded to the school as well as the largest single grant ever awarded by EPA STAR for nanotechnology research, the agency said.

In making the award, the agency noted that as nanotechnology progresses from research and development to commercialization and use, it is likely that manufactured nanomaterials will be released into the environment. EPA is charged with protecting human health and the environment, as well as ensuring that the uses of engineered nanotechnology products occur without unreasonable harm to human health or the environment. EPA said UK's research will provide relevant information needed for risk assessments that can inform decision making related to nanotechnology products.

Specifically, UK will use the grant to research the physico-chemical properties of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) that influence their distribution into the cells comprising the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the brain and to characterize their beneficial and/or hazardous effects on the brain. Researchers say the results will indicate the influence of the size, shape and various surface chemistry properties of ENMs on their entrance into BBB cells and the brain, compared to selected peripheral organs, the effects they produce in the brain, as well as their biopersistence and biotransformation in the brain. The results also should define the rate of brain entry of those ENMs that most rapidly enter the brain and the cells most susceptible to adverse effects of ENMs, according to EPA. Among other things, the studies should help determine the influence of physico-chemical properties of nanoscale materials on biological compatibility or toxicity. EPA said the research will be designed to maximize the application of the results to risk-assessment. For more information on the grant, go to http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/display.abstractDetail/abstract/8800/report/0.

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