Connect with us

LATEST NEWS

Empa researchers investigate the safety of graphene for humans

Liberty Peters

Published

on

Graphene, a single layer of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms, is regarded as the miracle material of the future: it is flexible, transparent, strong, can assume different electrical properties and has the highest thermal conductivity of all known materials. This makes it extremely interesting for countless possible applications. Europe has recognized this as well: The large-scale research program “Graphene Flagship” has been running for five years and is dedicated to this material. It is the largest research initiative that Europe has launched to date – this shows the enormous importance of graphene.

Biological effects under the microscope

But despite all the euphoria: As with any new technology, the potential downsides have to be taken into account early on. In the past, these were often investigated too late. For example, asbestos, once appreciated for its fire retardant properties, was used in the early 20th century to manufacture numerous products – but health hazards were only gradually discovered. In 1970, asbestos fibres were officially classified as carcinogenic.

An important part of the graphene flagship is therefore dedicated to the question: Are graphene-based materials safe for humans and the environment? To this day, numerous studies have been carried out within the framework of the flagship. Empa researchers from the Particles-Biology Interactions Lab investigated for example how graphene oxide affects the human lung, gastrointestinal tract or placental barrier.

A comprehensive review article has now been published in the halfway stage of the graphene flagship project, which links the data produced within the framework of the major international research project with other published studies and thus shows the current state of knowledge on the subject of the safety of graphene-based materials. Partners from 15 European universities and research institutes participated in the review, including Empa researchers Peter Wick and Tina Bürki.

The article provides an overview of when parts of graphene-based materials can even enter the environment or the human body during their life cycle: during production, use, aging or in the disposal or recycling process. The majority of the studies evaluated were devoted to the question of how graphene-based materials interact with the human body. These include the different ways in which materials can enter the body, for example by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact, as well as the distribution and interaction with important organs such as the central nervous system, lungs, skin, immune system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract and reproductive system.

Structure determines activity

It’s noticeable: Not all studies come to the same result. However, this is not necessarily due to the fact that the quality of individual studies is poor: “The challenge is that not all graphene is the same,” explains Peter Wick, head of the Particles-Biology Interactions Lab at Empa. Graphene-based materials can consist of one or more layers, the width and length of the layer can vary, and the ratio of carbon to oxygen atoms can also differ.

Depending on the combination of these three parameters, not only do completely different material properties result – the effects on humans and the environment also vary greatly. This makes simple, generally valid statements almost impossible. “Our goal is therefore to create a detailed model for a relationship between structure and certain properties,” said Wick. Careful characterization of the materials studied is therefore central. In the future, self-learning algorithms could help to generate a model from the data in order to predict the biological effects of a certain graphene structure.

However, such a comprehensive model is still a dream of the future. “We see ourselves here as a kind of launch helper for determining the safety of graphene-based materials and products,” explains Wick. “Although there are more and more studies and thus indications of how graphene-based materials affect living systems, there are still gaps in our knowledge. These gaps need to be filled before we can make a clear prediction about how a graphene-based material with certain properties will affect biological systems.” The aim is to create a new standard for authorities, research and industry so that the miracle material graphene can also be used safely.

Graphene Flagship The Graphene Flagship is the EU’s biggest research initiative to date, and, according to the European Commission, ‘history’s greatest distinction for excellent research’. With a budget of EUR one billion, the Graphene Flagship is tasked with taking graphene from the realm of academic laboratories into European society in ten years – thus generating economic growth, new jobs and new opportunities for Europeans as both investors and employees. With the Graphene Flagship, Europe has launched a new form of joint, coordinated research initiative of unprecedented scale. Graphene Flagship brings together an academic-industrial consortium aiming at a breakthrough for technological innovation. The research effort will cover the entire value chain from materials production to components and system integration, and targets a number of specific goals that exploit the unique properties of graphene.

Member and content contributor for the Human Parasites Support Network. Also co-hosts on the HPSN talk show. Survivor and victim of parasitic infections.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Medical News

MEDICAL10 hours ago

Quick Take: Association of Systemic Antibiotic Treatment of Acne With Skin Microbiota Characteristics

Systemic antibiotics are commonly used in the treatment of acne. However, the impact of their use on the complete bacterial...

MEDICAL10 hours ago

New herpes zoster vaccine predicted to be more cost effective than predecessor  

1. In a computational model, the new “recombinant zoster vaccine” (RZV) was predicted to be most cost-effective than the previous...

MEDICAL22 hours ago

Chinese population study shows high prevalence of elevated cardiovascular disease risk and low utilization of pharmacotherapy

1. In this national screening project, around 10% of middle-aged Chinese subjects were found to be at “high risk” for...

MEDICAL1 day ago

The KATHERINE trial: trastuzumab emtansine more effective than trastuzumab alone for treating residual HER2-positive breast cancer

1. Patients with residual human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer after chemotherapy and HER2 targeted therapy had...

MEDICAL2 days ago

Peripheral perfusion-targeted resuscitation does not lower mortality in septic shock patients

1. In this randomized controlled trial, there was no difference in 28-day mortality in patients with early septic shock between...

MEDICAL2 days ago

The CLEAR trial: decolonization routine associated with lower infection risk among MRSA carrier patients

1. Hospitalized patients with known MRSA colonization randomized to undergo a decolonization routine were found to have lower risks of...

MEDICAL3 days ago

Addition of IV acetaminophen with propofol or dexmedetomidine reduces risk of post-operative delirium in older patients undergoing cardiac surgery

1. In this randomized controlled trial, post-operative scheduled intravenous (IV) acetaminophen combined with propofol or dexmedetomidine reduced risk of post-operative...

MEDICAL3 days ago

Nurse-led psychological intervention does not reduce PTSD symptoms in ICU patients

1. In this randomized clinical trial, nurse-led psychological interventions did not reduce PTSD risk at 6 months compared to care...

MEDICAL4 days ago

2-Question Screen Identifies Adolescents at Risk for Future Alcohol Use Disorders

1. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) 2-question screen showed high predictive validity in identifying adolescents at...

MEDICAL4 days ago

MYBPC3 haploinsufficiency results in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy by altering myosin head configurations [PreClinical]

1. Truncating mutations in cardiac myosin-binding protein C (MYBPC3) are a common genetic cause of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 2. Haploinsufficiency of...

Advertisement

#CDC

Do you have questions about preventing and managing high #cholesterol? Join @CDCHeart_Stroke and a panel of cholesterol experts for a Facebook Live event on February 25 at 12:30 pm ET. Tune in at facebook.com/millionhearts. #HeartMonth

test Twitter Media - Do you have questions about preventing and managing high #cholesterol? Join @CDCHeart_Stroke and a panel of cholesterol experts for a Facebook Live event on February 25 at 12:30 pm ET. Tune in at https://t.co/rLdeAt7cyx. #HeartMonth https://t.co/6FGXEgv6Wu

HCPs: People with #disabilities are 3 times more likely to have #heartdisease than those without disabilities. In honor of #AmericanHeartMonth, help your patients explore the physical activities suitable for their disability type. bit.ly/2EnsTBx

test Twitter Media - HCPs: People with #disabilities are 3 times more likely to have #heartdisease than those without disabilities. In honor of #AmericanHeartMonth, help your patients explore the physical activities suitable for their disability type. https://t.co/9O33ubwifA https://t.co/SpXpDqLgcP

@Raelove03 CWD and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or “Mad Cow Disease”) are both animal prion diseases, a family of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders. CWD affects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer and moose, while BSE affects cows.

@Mad_Scientist25 Yes - Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a prion disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer and moose. To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people.

Hunters - be as safe as possible and lower your potential risk of exposure to #ChronicWastingDisease. Take CDC’s recommended steps when hunting in areas with #CWD: bit.ly/2EnQPox.

test Twitter Media - Hunters - be as safe as possible and lower your potential risk of exposure to #ChronicWastingDisease. Take CDC’s recommended steps when hunting in areas with #CWD: https://t.co/aPy5xs4T13. https://t.co/fjxEezzJJt

#lymedisease

@CDC_AMD Hey, can we get more $$$ for research and treatment for #Lymedisease ? Monitoring has done absolutely nothing in regards to testing, treatment, research. It's INSANE that nothing has been done for 40 years about tick borne illnesses.

A negative test does not rule out #LymeDisease Learn more about how to diagnose Lyme here: buff.ly/2sNSHjc

test Twitter Media - A negative test does not rule out #LymeDisease Learn more about how to diagnose Lyme here: https://t.co/OssrqDlLkD https://t.co/4uONqAtSgT

Lyme disease patients (67%) have postponed or avoided medical treatment due to discrimination, disrespect or difficulty obtaining care. #MyLymeData #LymeDisease tinyurl.com/y4rkruvm

test Twitter Media - Lyme disease patients (67%) have postponed or avoided medical treatment due to discrimination, disrespect or difficulty obtaining care. #MyLymeData #LymeDisease https://t.co/Ytok5v5oZl https://t.co/Sfs03xw5Ps

“It gave me a purpose,” she adds of her journey, “and made me find myself all over again.” @AvrilLavigne #LymeDisease #HeadAboveWater people.com/music/avril-la…

#Antiparasitic

Trending

Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved. The Human Parasite Support Network.