WP6 is focused on cellular models to study the potential toxicity of nanomaterials. The main aims are to assess effects of nanomaterials on the immune system (immunotoxicity) and to study deleterious effects on the genetic content of cells (genotoxicity), a harbinger of cancer development. Another aim will be to develop so-called high-throughput assays for rapid screening of large numbers of nanomaterials.

The work is conducted by a highly international constellation of nine partner institutes from seven different countries on five continents: Finland, Sweden, Germany, China, South Africa, Brazil and the United States. WP6 is coordinated by Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. The work is closely aligned with activities in WP5 (on bio-nanointeractions) and WP10-11 (on systems biology).

Nanomaterials that are accidentally or intentionally introduced into the human body invariably come into contact with the immune system. The interaction of nanomaterials with immune cells will further determine the fate of the nanomaterials and whether they are eliminated from the body or will accumulate in tissues and organs potentially leading to toxicity.

State-of-the art approaches will be applied to monitor the cellular uptake of nanomaterials by immune competent cells, their subcellular localisation, and subsequent responses of cells.

Another key end-point that raises significant concern for human health is DNA damage and genotoxicity that may, in turn, lead to cancer. Traditional genotoxicity assays in combination with novel, automated techniques provided by one of our industrial partners belonging to WP6 will be used to estimate the impact of nanomaterials on DNA, including unwinding and breaks of DNA strands and damage at the chromosomal level. For all of these studies, we will utilise mainly human primary cells or cell lines.

Key Personnel

Dr. Bengt Fadeel

Head of the Unit Molecular Toxicology at The Institute of Environmental Medicine of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, EU

Dr. Bengt Fadeel is a Full Professor of Medical Inflammation Research at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and Adjunct Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Fadeel is a Fellow of the US Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS).

His research interests include the assessment of immunotoxicity of engineered nanomaterials; and cell death signaling, its role in human disease. He has published more than 180 peer reviewed papers and review articles.

His laboratory participates in several national and EU-funded research projects with a focus on the safety of engineered nanomaterials, and the Flagship Project GRAPHENE, in the workpackage on Health & Environment.