Namur Nanosafety Centre
Research Field and Subjects
In coming years, products based on nanotechnology are expected to impact nearly all-industrial sectors and will enter the consumer markets in large quantities. However, the unique physicochemical properties of manufactured nanomaterials, that make them attractive for manufacturers, arise concerns about their potential adverse effect on human health and the environment. Indeed, due to their nanoscale dimensions, nanoparticles can be easily uptaked by cells and exhibit a high surface area per unit mass leading to an increase potential for biological interactions and activity.
In order to fill a critical knowledge gap, i.e. a better understanding of the mechanisms that trigger NM toxicity, the University of Namur has set up a multidisciplinary platform that includes physicists, biologists, and pharmacists whose joint their effort to develop relevant toxicity assays for NM safety assessment. Particular attention is given to comply with the OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, with the EU policies on cosmetics (Council Directive 2003/15/EC) and chemicals (REACH). Since the NM toxicity is clearly influenced by nanoparticle-specific properties, an extensive characterization of nanoparticle properties and validation of test systems are performed.
The Namur Nanosafety Centre (NNC) has gained an outstanding expertise in nanosafety through its participation in various high level research programs leading to the set up of adapted methods for (a) NM physicochemical characterization (pristine forms, dispersions and complex matrices including food), (b) NM fate and biodistribution studies, (c), NM toxicity assessment (in vitro and in vivo testing), (d) animal whole-body exposure to well characterized airborne nanoaerosols, (e) haemocompatibility, (f) NP-induced changes in cellular signaling and gene expression at transcriptomic and proteomic levels. The NNC also participates to metrology, cross validation and standardization of assays for regulatory purposes.