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Nanomaterial Toxicity

Highly Sensitive Single-Cell Analysis for Nanomaterial Toxicity Studies


Nanomaterial Toxicity

The rapid increase in the manufacture and wide-spread use of nanoparticles (NPs) have simultaneously triggered a need for appropriate safety assessment strategies. Indeed, the small size and high surface-to-volume ratio of NPs compared to their ionic counterparts, strongly influence their physiochemical and toxicokinetic properties. Additionally, owing to their small size, NPs can pass through the biological barrier and enter cells.  Currently, nanotoxicology is confronted with various challenges; among which the multitude of materials requiring investigation and the understanding of the interactions between NPs and biological systems.

In order to study the response of cells to toxic compounds or nanoparticles, changes in elemental composition – referred to as the cell ionome[1] – can be used to determine cells’ states of development and growth rates. Single-cell analysis by icpTOF enables the simultaneous detection of all elements in a single cell, thereby allowing for highly sensitive elemental analysis, while retaining valuable information related to cell-to-cell variance. This new promising technique has opened new perspective of research for nanotoxicology exposure studies, namely by enabling quantification of the cellular uptake and depuration rates of NPs.

[1] Malinouski, M., et al., Genome-wide RNAi ionomics screen reveals new genes and regulation of human trace element metabolism. Nature Communications, 2014. 5: p. 3301.


  • Single-Cell Multi-Element Detection for Nanomaterial Toxicity Using the icpTOF S2

    • All the elements. All the time. The icpTOF always records complete mass spectra, so you never miss individual nanoparticles or cell events as well as combined events.
    • Highest available sensitivity for the detection of smaller particles with high SNR.
    • High speed detection. The icpTOF records a complete mass spectrum every 12-50 µs making it the optimum detector for fast transient signals such as individual nanoparticles and cells.
    • Particle workflow supported in TOFpilot


    What is Single Particle ICP-MS?

    View More Single-Cell Analysis Solutions

    Study of the uptake of 60nm Ag NPs by algae cells.  Collaboration with Prof. Leung and Dr. Lum, Hong Kong Baptist University

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