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Journal of Nanobiotechnology publishes special issue on Swiss National Research Programme “Opportunities and Risks of Nanomaterials”

Date: 21/7/2017

The Journal of Nanobiotechnology have published a special issue on Switzerland’s five year National Research Programme which focuses on the “Opportunities and Risks of Nanomaterials” (NRP 64).

The programme’s primary goal was to investigate potential applications of nanomaterials in healthcare, the consumer industry and in the environment, and to identify, characterise and minimise the possible risks associated with their use. Several projects dealt with the development and/or testing of tools and measurement protocols to track the fate, effect or biodegradation of nanoparticles in cells, tissues, soil and aquatic environments.

Highlights of the programme include:

  • single cell surgery by metal nanomagnets;
  • biomedical nanoparticles as immune modulators;
  • novel nanoparticles for efficient and safe drug delivery;
  • nanofiber-reinforced bone substitute materials;
  • aerogels and new tissue engineering scaffolds (e.g. artificial cartilage) made of cellulose nanocrystals;
  • nanoparticle transport across the human placenta; transport of nanoparticles after release from biodegradable implants;
  • non-invasive monitoring of the interaction between nanoparticles and aquatic microorganisms;
  • evaluation platforms for safety and environmental risks of carbon nanotube reinforced nanocomposites;
  • development of a “lab-on-a-chip” tool to rapidly assess the safety of novel nanoscale active materials for next-generation battery systems.

N64 has undeniably generated a large amount of new knowledge about the use, application and risk of nanomaterials. One of the general conclusions drawn from NRP 64 is that whenever a new nanomaterial is identified or a new application of an established nanomaterial pursued, carrying out a risk re-assessment is essential to guarantee safety.

Overall, the programme has clearly shown that, for the nanomaterials investigated, the opportunities outweigh the risks. Not only has NRP 64 taken the research field a big step forward, its results have made it evident where more basic research and/or a more detailed risk assessment are necessary before researchers can start exploiting the application potential of individual nanomaterials.

Source: Journal of Nanobiotechnology

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