Forschungsprogramm B

B - Impact of Advanced Materials on Human Health and the Environment


Certain material properties and molecular mechanisms ifluence the cell-material-interaction. Project B aims at identifying those material properties and mechanisms, as well as the impact of advanced materials on (biochemical) functions of human cells and environmental organisms. Our partners’ combined expertise and techniques allows us to localise materials in cells while simultaneously detecting cell responses. The results will feed back into Project A as a foundation for developing Safe-by-Design strategies.

Toxicological Concepts for Hazard Assessment

Interactions between cells and materials have to be analysed on several levels for a thorough alaysis of the safety of advanced materials. Modern toxicological concepts correlate adverse effects on organs, organisms or populations with how material properties affect cells and tissues (Adverse Outcome Pathway, AOP). Once established, AOPs enable predictions of harmful effects by use of simplified models and detection of specific key events. In this context, alternative and advanced in vitro testing methods (see also Project A) are gaining more and more importance.1,2

Systematic Analysis of the Consequences for Aquatic Organisms

In addition to human health, advanced materials can also affect environmental organisms if the materials or their components are released into the environment. Polymer particles in particular, which degrade over time to micro and eventually nanoplastics, are known to accumulate in aquatic ecosystems and especially also in attached organisms (protozoa, animals, plants).3 Nanoparticles are also expected to accumulate, as shown for TiO2 from sunscreen.4 However, how the organisms take up and incorporate the particles and what consequences this has for the organisms has not yet been systematically studied.5

Case Studies

Fallstudie B1Case study B1: Dissolution control
Case study B2: Environmental impact of advanced materials on marine fauna and flora

References and previous work

  1. Kämpfer AAM, Busch M, Schins RPF, Advanced In Vitro Testing Strategies and Models of the Intestine for Nanosafety Research, Chem Res Toxicol 33 (2020) 1163.
  2. Hufnagel M et al., Toxicity and Gene Expression Profiling of Copper- and Titanium-Based Nanoparticles Using Air–Liquid Interface Exposure. Chem Res Toxicol 33 (2020) 1237.
  3. Duis K, Coors A, Microplastics in the aquatic and terrestrial environment: sources (with a specificfocus on personal care products), fate and effects. Environ Sci Eur 28 (2016) 2.
  4. Slomberg DL et al., Release and fate of nanoparticulate TiO2 UV filters from sunscreen: Effects of particle coating and formulation type. Environ Pollut 271 (2021) 116263.
  5. de Sá LD et al., Studies of the effects of microplastics on aquatic organisms: What do we know and where should we focus our efforts in the future? Sci total environ 645 (2018) 1029.

Involved Partners