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Nanosafety Research

Some engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) such as carbon nanotubes (CNT), metal oxides or metal nanoparticles are produced already on an industrial scale. Yet, it is still unknown to what extent ENMs are able to adversely affect biological processes in a cell or at a biological barrier. On the other side nano-medical development promises revolutionary concepts in drug delivery or personalized medicine. In order to reliably assess the interactions between ENMs and cells we develop and continuously improve methodologies and in vitro models towards reliable and predictive tool boxes/instruments.

Our goals are:

  • To identify biological effects of ENM in relation to their physico-chemical properties with a special focus on relevant exposure routes such as inhalation or intravenous injection
  • To identify the mechanisms how ENMs interact with biological barriers such as the human placenta
  • To improve currently applied in vitro assays and to validate them in international organized round robin studies
  • to support and monitor the debate on safety and risk of nanomaterials and to disseminate our knowledge beyond the scientific community

We want to actively contribute to a safe and sustainable nanotechnology within the Research Program Health and Performance of Empa

Contact:
Support:
BAfU, BAG, BMBF, CCMX, CTI, EU 6th & 7thFP, Freie Akademische Gesellschaft Basel, Korean-Swiss Science and Technology Cooperation, SNF NRP64 Chances and Risks of nanomaterials
Collaborations:
  • Empa internal: Technology and Society, St. Gallen; Biomaterials, St. Gallen; Applied Wood Materials, St. Gallen; Analytical Chemistry, Dübendorf
  • National: EPFL, Powder Technology Laboratory (LTP) (Heinrich Hofmann); IST Lausanne, (Michael Riediker); TEMAS, Arbon; University of Fribourg, AMI(Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser); University Hospital Zurich, Dep. of Obstetrics (Ursula von Mandach); University of Zurich, Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology (Hanspeter Nägeli); University of Basel, Dep. of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Jörg Huwyler)
  • International: DECHEMA, Frankfurt; EU 7th FP MARINA (coordinated by Lang Tran IOM), NANOHOUSE (coordinated by Francis Tardiff CEA), NANOMMUNE (coordinated by Bengt Fadeel KI) and their members; KRISS, Korea; NIST, USA
Human macrophage exposed to Hematite-Nanoparticles (70 nm). Scanning electron micrograph
3D Microtissue of cells forming the placental barrier
Placenta perfusion

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