Researchers working on the European Metrology Research Project NanoChOp (Chemical and Optical Characterisation of Nanomaterials in Biological Systems), funded by EURAMET, have concluded the NanoSight Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis system offers a unique insight into the behaviour of nanoparticles in biological systems.

This insight supports ongoing efforts to assess the potential risks to human health posed by the increasing use of nanomaterials.

LGC Inorganic Analysis researcher Dorota Bartczak said: "Measurement methods and techniques that provide reliable data for researchers to understand how nanoparticles behave in complex biological systems are crucial for the human risks assessments needed to ensure that the increasing use of nanomaterials does not endanger public health.

"The NanoSight system measures nanoparticle size, concentration and surface charge simply and quickly.

"Recent software upgrades have enhanced its capabilities and we can now successfully study individual nanoparticle populations at the high serum concentrations that reflect conditions in nanotoxicology models."

LGC is a global leader in the laboratory services, measurement standards, reference materials, genomics and proficiency testing marketplace. It is a national measurement laboratory with designated responsibility for chemical and bio-metrology.

LGC co-ordinated the consortium of laboratories and academic institutions that completed the EU NanoChOp project.

The project’s underlying aim was to develop a series of metrologically validated characterisation methods to support the commercial exploitation of nanomaterials and to produce candidate reference materials that could be used for quality control of the measurements.

These measurement strategies will be invaluable for future human risk assessments and in the longer term to ensure human health.

Bartczak added: "NanoSight uses nanoparticle tracking analysis to measure number-based particle size distribution and concentration measurements, so it is clear exactly how many particles of any specific size are present.

"Number-based measurements are critical to meet EU regulations relating to the testing of foods and cosmetics, but they also enable the direct study of critical processes such as agglomeration.

"With NanoSight, we can see an increasing population of larger particles and a simultaneous reduction in particle concentration as agglomeration occurs.

"Such analysis makes it easier to reliably assess the characteristics of these complex nanoparticle systems."