MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Yon Rojanasakul, Ph.D., professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, is the principal investigator on a recently awarded grant project, “Prediction and Mechanism of Carbon Nanotube-induced Fibrosis.”
Nanotechnology — the study of controlling matter on a molecular scale and creating devices that are functional at this level — is a field of research that is rapidly growing. The effects of this field of research on the health of those working around nanomaterials and using products containing these materials are not well known.
The $1.4 million grant — approximately $369,000 per year over the next four years — from the National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH NHLBI) will fund research in identifying whether or not exposure to carbon nanotubes causes scarring and inflammation of the lungs.
Carbon nanotubes are one of the most widely used nanomaterials in commercial and biomedical applications, such as in consumer electronics, medication delivery and research projects. Because of their small size, it is possible the tubes can penetrate lung tissue. Exposure of this material to lung tissue could potentially cause scarring and incurable lung diseases.
Rojanasakul, along with grant participants Vincent Castranova, Ph.D., Liying Wang, Ph.D., and Robert Mercer, Ph.D., of NIOSH and Nick Wu, Ph.D., associate professor at the WVU College of Enginneering and Mineral Resources, will study various types of carbon nanotubes to see which are harmful and how they may cause health problems.
The findings from the research could show that exposure to nanotubes may have an impact on health and therefore lead to the development of better and safer products for all who may come into contact with this material.