RICHMOND, Va. (June 20, 2007) -- A research team has identified a new biological function for a soccer ball-shaped nanoparticle called a buckyball – the ability to block allergic response, setting the stage for the development of new therapies for allergy.
Allergic disease is the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the United States, and while various treatments have been developed to control allergy, no cure has been found. These findings advance the emerging field of medicine known as nanoimmunology.
The researchers, from Virginia Commonwealth University and Luna Innovations Inc., a private, Roanoke, Va., research company, are the first to show that buckyballs are able to block allergic response in human cell culture experiments.
Buckyballs, or fullerenes, are nanoparticles containing 60 carbon atoms. Due to their unique structure, inertness and stability, researchers from a number of scientific fields have been investigating the tiny, hollow carbon cages to serve a variety of functions. In this study, researchers modified the buckyballs so that they were compatible with water. The new study findings were published online in the June 19 issue of the Journal of Immunology and will appear in the July 1 print issue of the journal.