Inventory groups nanotech supplement launches

By Simon Pitman and Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nanotechnology Us

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has taken its
research into nanotechnology for consumer products a stage further,
by launching a database of the most recent launches on the market.

The inventory​, which was officially launched this week, currently holds a total of 212 products, of which thirteen fall into the supplements category.

On a geographical basis, the inventory also reveals a considerable divide on the launch and uptake of nano-based consumer goods, with the US market proving to be streets ahead, accounting for 126 launches across all industry sectors, followed by Asia with 42 and Europe with 35.

Of the materials being used in the products, the inventory also reveals that nano-engineered carbon is the most commonly used amongst all the products, followed by silver and silica.

The inventory has been put together as part of the Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, which encourages discussion around its benefits, as well as its safety and potential environmental impact.

The comprehensive inventory holds a spectrum of products, including clothes, paints, foods, personal care and packaging. However nine products so far listed under supplements hail from the same manufacturer, RBC Life Sciences, under the Nanoceuticals brand. The remainder are from, NutraLease, HealthPlus, and Utopia Silver Supplements.

The potential of nanotechnology has not escaped the attention of other supplement-makers, and several ingredient innovations have paved the way for more products to be on shelves soon - if indeed they are not already.

For instance, Aquanova has developed several ingredient solutions using its NovaSol carrier system, which works rather like microencapsulation but on a nano scale. The active substance is contained within product micelles which are just 30nm in diameter - that is, one millionth of a millimeter.

The active substances to which this has so far been applied include to vitamins A and E in partnership with BASF, ALA in partnership with Degussa, and CoQ10.

"We are at the vanguard of discovering the endless benefits of nanotechnology for applications like targeted cancer treatments and more efficient solar cells,"​ said David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, which is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

"With this inventory, we also are learning that this technology is already being incorporated into our daily lives. It's on store shelves and being sold in every part of the world,"​ he added.

The body says that the inventory can be used by consumers, retailers, researchers and the media in an effort to keep up to date with all the latest launches on the market.

Until now, the US government has relied on data compiled by EmTech Research, but this kind of specific product data was not freely available to the general public.

An indication of how big this technology is likely to be comes from current predictions that put the value of this technology at $1 trillion by 2015.

The US government is hoping to become a global leader in the field and in turn it is supporting the investment of $3 billion worth of research and development into the field, a figure that currently accounts for one third of total expenditure world-wide.

However not everyone is satisfied that sufficient safeguards for the new emerging technology are in place.

The UK's Institute of Food Science & Technology said last month that it had identified possible deficiencies in current regulations concerning the impact of nanotechology on food.

A major concern is that there is, presently, too little information on the properties of nanoparticles and, in particular, on how their very small size might influence toxicity. Size matters, says the IFST; it is therefore necessary to treat nanoparticles as new, potentially harmful materials and to test whether they are safe or harmful.

Moreover, given that there is no requirement to label foods containing nanoparticles, consumers are unlikely to be aware of such applications in foods.

"Nanotechnology has already provoked public concern and debate,"​ said the institute. "There are equally vociferous proponents and opponents of this new, emerging technology."

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