News Release

Lords Seek Advice from Ulster Professor

5th June 2009

University of Ulster nanotechnology expert Professor Vyvyan Howard has given evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee.

Professor Howard, based at the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, travelled to the Lords on Tuesday to speak in front of the Select Committee on Science and Technology, the Nanotechnology in Food Sub Panel.

He said: “I had originally given scientific evidence to the Soil Association when they were formulating their policy on nanotechnology in food and they wished me to present that evidence.

“I talked a lot about the research data gaps in nanotoxicology. When you make novel nanoparticles then you increase their mobility within the body and that might mean that some substances could get to locations within the body, such as the brain, where they were not wanted.

“The pharmaceutical industry is already experimenting with using nanoparticles as ‘Trojan horses’ to increase penetration of drugs across the blood brain barrier.

“When you consider the ‘dose’ of food in a lifetime, measured in tons, we need to take a very precautionary approach before introducing untested nanotechnology products into the food chain.”

The Bioimaging Research Group, which Professor Howard leads at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus, is recognised internationally as a centre of excellence in the imaging and toxicology of nanoparticles.

The Group is a partner in two big European projects – NanoInteract and NeuroNano – to investigate a number of aspects of nanoparticle fate and toxicology in biological systems.

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