April 7, 2011

Nanoparticles for Nickel Allergy

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Tiny particles measuring billionths of a meter in diameter could offer considerable hope to people who are allergic to nickel, according to scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH).

Around 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population, or over 30 to 45 million people, in addition to many more worldwide, are allergic to the nickel found in various everyday objects. For these people, the steel causes red, tingling hives when it meets their skin.

Even though a small number of countries systematize the amount of the steel in established products to confine exposure, there is no great answer to the problem.

"There have been approaches to building creams with agents that connect the nickel before it can dig the skin, but these are not efficient in many patients and can even be poisonous when the agents themselves dig the skin, as many do," Jeffrey Karp, personality of the work and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at BWH, was quoted as saying. "People moreover infrequently cloak their valuables with spike gloss to emanate a blockade between the skin and nickel ions, but this won't head off all exposures, such as handling coins or wearing a watch."

Karp, who moreover binds appointments by Harvard Medical School, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), is himself allergic to nickel.

Now, he and colleagues including R. Rox Anderson, a dermatologist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, have discovered that nanoparticles containing calcium could offer a protected answer to the problem. When applied to the skin in a cream, the nanoparticles capture the nickel, preventing it from making its way into the body. Furthermore, the nanoparticles themselves were created so that they cannot penetrate the skin. The cream with its nickel can then be simply washed off by means of water.

"Despite blockade creams, anti-inflammatory drugs and attempts to avoid nickel, this [metal] is still the many familiar result of allergic skin reactions," Anderson said. "Nanoparticles that connect to [the nickel] allergens but do not dig the skin offer a new strategy. Big hope in a tiny package!"

"We design that a person could simply request the cream just as they would palm cream," says Praveen Kumar Vemula of BWH, HMS, HSCI, and HST. Vemula is initial writer of the paper.

SOURCE: Nature Nanotechnology, April 3, 2011