INTERESTING ENGINEERING – Nanoplastics are minuscule particles of plastic, usually with a size of less than 100 nanometers (0.1 micrometers).
In recent years, research and concern over the effects of nanoplastics on the environment and human health have grown.
Nanoplastics’ tiny size makes it possible for them to penetrate organisms at the cellular or molecular level, which begs the question: where will we find them next?
Found in the human brain
The answer is the human brain as new research is reporting changes associated with Parkinson’s disease and certain forms of dementia caused by the interaction between nanoplastics and a specific protein that is naturally present in the bodily organ.
“Parkinson’s disease has been called the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world,” said principal investigator, Andrew West, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine.
“Numerous lines of data suggest environmental factors might play a prominent role in Parkinson’s disease, but such factors have for the most part not been identified.”
Using three approaches, test tubes, cultured neurons, and mouse models of Parkinson’s disease, the researchers found that the aggregation of the alpha-synuclein protein was caused by an attraction to single-use goods like disposable drinking cups and cutlery, which are often made of plastic with nanoparticles of polystyrene.
Alpha-synuclein is primarily known for its association with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders …