The study, performed by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, found that C60 buckyballs have an affinity for DNA strands. The researchers were not able to conclusively show that this affinity would harm DNA, except in the case where the strand is already damaged—in which case the buckyballs attach to the damaged portion and prevent the DNA’s self-repair mechanism from working.
The study’s conclusion states, “Therefore, our simulation results suggest that C60 molecules have potentially negative impact on the structure, stability, and biological functions of DNA molecules.” So essentially, they expect to find problems but haven’t yet been able to prove anything beyond the interference with the self-repair mechanism.
This study is just part of a growing concern over the negative health benefits of nanoparticles. Another issue is that carbon nanotubes could cause asbestos-like scarring in lung tissue, and the US Environmental Protection Agency has just issued a draft white paper on the dangers of nanotechnology.
Source: New Scientist