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Nanomaterials May 2019 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: Madeeha Uppal

Increasing the Bioavailability of Cannabidiol Products

Why is this topic significant?

Cannabidiol products have notoriously low cellular absorptions. Companies are using nanotechnology to make products with higher absorptions and improved water solubility.

Description

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the chemicals in cannabis plants. CBD does not have the same psychotropic effects that other chemicals in cannabis have, and numerous companies sell CBD products. CBD is a hydrophobic molecule, and recently, scientists have employed nanotechnology methods to formulate CBD products with improved properties, including water solubility. For example, Isodiol manufactures water-based CBD formulations using nanoemulsification techniques and achieves CBD nanoparticles of 16 nanometers (nm) in size. Start-up Nanocraft uses nanoabsorption technologies to produce CBD supplements and in October 2018 launched a new line of products for athletes. Another producer of CBD products—Kazmira—recently introduced what the company claims to be the world's first water-soluble CBD product: Plasma. Kazmira uses its in-house technology and claims that Plasma contains homogeneous particles 5 nm in size. (In contrast, most companies use nanoemulsion techniques to deliver partially water-soluble, heterogeneous CBD products with particle sizes exceeding 100 nm.) Kazmira's Plasma is also free from emulsifiers and surfactants and has a long shelf life.

CBD is seeing increasing use in beauty products. Defynt uses nanotechnology to produce antibacterial and antiaging serums that contain CBD nanoparticles, which the company claims have anti-inflammatory properties.

Implications

Some studies suggest that CBD provides health benefits, including lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity; pain management; and alleviation of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress. Smokers are also recognizing the damaging effects of smoking tobacco and are turning to CBD oils and tinctures. However, bioavailability is a concern, with CBD products having only 10% absorption into the blood stream. Scientists are researching ways of utilizing nanotechnology to improve CBD's bioavailability and have shown that new nano products—such as the products above—have much improved absorption because of smaller CBD-nanoparticle sizes that cells can absorb efficiently. Improved absorption could make CBD products cheaper overall, because the user has to buy less to gain the same effect. And making CBD water soluble gives the end user a wider variety of food and drink that the user can infuse with CBD. Furthermore, Kazmira and Nanocraft claim that their products have no bitter taste—a common characteristic of other commercially available CBDs. In the beauty industry, using nanotechnology to make CBD particles smaller may prove particularly useful, because nanometer-size particles are more easily absorbed by cells can penetrate deeper layers of skin.

Impacts/Disruptions

Attitudes about cannabis and cannabis-related compounds are changing in many countries around the world. Demand for CBD products is growing. Cowen analysts predict that water-based CBD beverages will see a surge in the coming years, with the market increasing from $600 million in 2019 to $1 billion in 2020. In December 2018, the US Congress legalized hemp-derived CBD, and in April 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it plans to hold the first public hearing about the legalization of CBD in the food-and-beverage market in May 2019. The FDA plans to gather data and determine how to regulate the manufacture and marketing of CBD products.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Food and beverage, health care, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, law enforcement

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

Glass Coatings That Reduce Bird Collisions

Why is this topic significant?

Architects and construction companies are increasingly adopting designs and building materials that pose little or no threat to the environment to conserve nature and wildlife. Using glass that avoids bird collisions is one way of saving millions of birds every year.

Description

Multinational-glass-manufacturer Pilkington has developed an innovative glass—AviSafe—that has a special coating to prevent bird collisions. The coating includes a pattern of vertical lines of 35-nanometers-thick titanium dioxide that are between 1 and 10 centimeters apart. Scientists deposit the pattern through a shadow mask using magnetron sputtering. The coating takes advantage of the difference between human vision and avian vision in the ultraviolet range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The titanium dioxide pattern reflects back ultraviolet wavelengths, which are visible to birds, and maintains a high transmission in the visible region. Pilkington has tested AviSafe in Europe and the United States and found the product to be as effective at reducing bird collisions as glass with visible printed dots is. Pilkington plans to launch AviSafe in summer.

Implications

Birds perceive reflections of the sky and trees in glass as real images. Often birds fly toward the reflected images and collide with glass. The collisions are almost always fatal, and in the United States, collisions with glass buildings, windows, and doors account for 600 million bird deaths each year. Collisions are more frequent during migration periods, and some cities—for example, Chicago, Illinois, and Houston and Dallas, Texas—are prone to more bird deaths than are other cities because of their geographic position along bird-migration routes. Typically, construction companies use decals on the outside of glass windows to reduce bird collisions. However, such a practice blocks the view from inside the building, because decals need to have a continual pattern so birds do not try to fly around individual decals.

A growing trend exists of architects' designing buildings with a lot of glass to allow the interior to catch natural light. Some research shows that natural light boosts the mood, and in workplaces, it improves productivity. Although some bird-safe glass products such as Ornilux bird-protection glass are on the market, some of these products have poor transmission and can reduce the view from inside buildings. Pilkington claims that the nanoscale pattern on AviSafe is barely noticeable from inside buildings. Furthermore, the coating could have applications in solar control and safety and security glass.

Impacts/Disruptions

In the past decade, some governments have implemented legislation that mandates adoption of bird-friendly measures when designing and constructing new buildings and retrofitting existing ones. In 2009, Toronto, Canada, became the first city in North America to introduce guidelines that require buildings to use patterns and antireflective coatings; since then, bird collisions have decreased by more than 90%. Similar legislation is also in place in Highland Park, Illinois; Oakland and San Francisco, California; the state of Minnesota; and the province of Ontario, Canada. Earlier in 2019, senators and representatives in Chicago, Illinois; New Jersey; and New York, New York, also introduced bird-friendly building bills and ordinances. If they pass, the acts will require the use of bird-friendly building materials in the construction of all new buildings and refurbishment of existing buildings.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Smart windows, construction materials, architecture, wildlife conservation

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: