UKSPA - Breakthrough Issue 5

Page 32


Non-animal nanosafety Physiologically Anchored Tools for Realistic nanOmateriaL hazard aSsessment (PATROLS)


Shareen is the Medical School’s Director of the Centre for NanoHealth and she leads the In Vitro Toxicology Group

n January 2018, scientists at Swansea University Medical School initiated an international collaborative grant in excess of €12 million, funded by the European Commission, to develop novel cutting-edge tests to minimise the use of animals when assessing safety concerns surrounding nanotechnology. Swansea University is the lead partner in an international team of scientists including academic, industrial, government and risk assessment partners working on this major project entitled Physiologically Anchored Tools for Realistic nanOmateriaL hazard aSsessment (PATROLS). The project involves a total of 24 partners spread across 13 countries through Europe and across the globe including Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the US.


Nanotechnology greatly enhances crucial aspects of our lives and is already integrated into products across all sectors, from cosmetics, to industrial processes and novel materials, saving energy, resources and improving functionality of materials from sun screen to concrete.

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Science behind nanomaterials development is racing ahead of regulation, and advances in safety testing are now enabling improved assessment of materials. This ensures that novel materials are safe for consumers and the environment throughout the whole lifecycle of the material and the products into which it is integrated. Several challenges currently exist in the field of nanosafety testing: standard non-animal tests are unreliable for nanomaterials, so there is a greater emphasis on evaluating their safety in animals. However, animal tests are also unsuitable as they are expensive, timeconsuming, and are associated with substantial moral concerns. Additionally, these tests do not predict the consequences of long term, low dose exposure on both human health and the environment. PATROLS “aims” to address these limitations by providing state-of-the-art 3D cell culture models of the human lung, gastrointestinal tract and liver. The project is also developing advanced methods for environmental safety testing and computational models. Furthermore, exposure under realistic conditions