Can sunscreen nanoparticles cause Alzheimer's disease?

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London, Aug 25 (ANI): Researchers at University of Ulster are all set to probe whether some man-made nanoparticles, such as those found in sunscreens, are linked with Alzheimer's disease.

Led by professor Vyvyan Howard and Dr Christian Holscher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in Coleraine, the research will look into whether engineered nanoparticles can induce neurodegenerative disease.

Howard said that they would examine whether there was a significant risk associated with such nanoparticles.

"The overall science and technology objective of this programme is to determine if engineered nanoparticles could constitute a significant neuro-toxicological risk to humans for two diseases - Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," the BBC quoted him as saying.

The experts will be looking at nanoparticles present in chemicals found in sunscreens and an additive in some diesel fuels - titanium dioxide and cerium oxide - and their connection to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

"There is now firm evidence that some engineered nanoparticles entering intravenously or via lungs can reach the brains of small animals. Indeed they lodge in almost all parts of the brain and there are no efficient clearance mechanisms to remove them once there," said Howard.

"There are also suggestions that nanoscale particles arising from urban pollution have reached the brains of animals and children living in Mexico City.

"It has recently been discovered that nanoparticles can have highly significant impacts on the rate of misfolding of key proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

"The brain itself is a very special organ. It cannot repair by replacing nerve cells, the ones you get at birth have to last all your life, which makes them peculiarly vulnerable to long term low dose toxicity," he added.

Dr. Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "We do not advise people to stop using sunscreen as it has been proven to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer however we welcome research into the long term safety of modern products.

"There is currently no research data directly linking the use of sun screen to development of Alzheimer's disease," she added. (ANI)

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