Name of the infrastructure: UOE-TA

Location (town, country): Exeter, UK

Web site address: www.exeter.ac.uk

Legal name of organisation operating the infrastructure: University of Exeter

Location of organisation (town, country): Exeter, Devon, UK


Description of the Infrastructure


The key component of the UOE offer is the state-of-the-art purpose builtfacilities for nano-ecotoxicology exposure to OECD standard nanomaterials, which provides comprehensiveand dedicated technical support and is fully supported within the University’s Systems Biology ResearchTheme. UOE has, in addition, world class bio-imaging facilities including a multiphoton imaging spectroscopylaboratory, which is strongly supported by staff with expertise in both the development and biological applicationsof multiphoton technology, to allow for label free imaging of nanomaterials deep within biological tissues. Thus,UOE has a major interest and expertise in developing in vitro and in vivo models for assessing the influence ofphysicochemical characteristics on environmental fate and organism-level interactions of commercially relevantmanufactured nanoparticles.

UOE is the lead scientific Participant for the PROSPEcT Project, the UK’s contribution to the OECD SponsorshipProgramme to examine the environmental safety of nanomaterials in accordance with the agreed OECDWPMN ‘Guidance Manual for Sponsors of the OECD Sponsorship Programme for the Testing of ManufactureNanomaterials’. This is a public-private-Participantship dedicated to supporting the safe and responsibleexploitation of nanomaterials, in order to develop a better understanding of their impact on humans, and theenvironment. It will provide crucial data to the OECD work, by addressing gaps in the current level of knowledgeon the physico-chemical and ecotoxicological properties of these materials, followed by fundamental scientificresearch leading to establishing scientific test methodologies to study those endpoints that may not be assessedthrough standard tests used for bulk chemicals.

Scientists involved in this activity are based in the School of Biosciences, a rapidly expanding internationalcentre for research in the biological and biochemical sciences; The UOE researchers are committed to providinghigh quality research and education across the spectrum of the biological sciences and including a growingcritical mass of expertise in nano-ecotoxicology: the fate, behaviour and ecological toxicology of nanomaterials.Internally, UOE researchers collaborate strongly with the Functional Materials Centre, in which world leadingexpertise has been combined in engineering 'smart' materials (including a major EPSRC investment in grapheneresearch) and fundamental physics research in photonics and nanomaterials to create innovative new materials.Photonics is a major research specialism of the UOE School of Physics, where an established team of 20scientists focus on the interaction between light and matter and the way light may be controlled by differentstructures through the development of new photonic materials.

UOEs Industry collaborations include strong links with a range of industry Participants and SMEs, includingBASF, Oxonica Ltd, Antaria Ltd, Naneum, Umicore, Intrinsiq Materials Ltd, CEMMNT Hub Ltd, organised through the Nanotechnology Industries Association Ltd and the OECD Business and Industries AssociationCommittee (BIAC).



UOE will be offering access to two components listed in theproject, as follows:


Particle characterization:

Nanoparticle dispersion and characterization techniques are available through UOE Core FacilitiesMicroscopy and visualisation• UOE's bioimaging facility is a core facility providing state of the art instrumentation e.g. Olympus 1X 81 andexperienced sTAf to assist in high quality microscopy including nanoparticle imaging (see reference list ofpublications). Our new TIRF platform (Olympus IX 81VisiTIRF) allows for high resolution imaging of individualparticles and their interaction with cellular machinery. UOE own a Meta Zeiss Confocal microscope includingspinning disc, Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM), Scanning electron microscope (SEM, with Gatancryo-transfer system) and TEM tomography and optical fluorescence, with X-Ray diffraction and photoelectronicspectroscopy (XRD, XPS) available to determine the oxidation state of species within particles. The daily rateincludes dedicated technical cover.• Within the Multiphoton imaging spectroscopy facility, UOE offer supported access to our custom builtCoherent Anti-stokes Raman scattering (CARS) spectroscope, a system built around a modified Olympus IX71microscope (with incubation chamber). Five ultra-fast lasers provide flexible excitation that can be tailoredfor a specific application. CARS is emerging as a powerful tool for biological imaging with advantages overconventional microscopies that include: label-free contrast, increased depth penetration and low phototoxicity.This system has exceptional capabilities for locating nanoparticles deep within biological samples withsub-cellular resolution. The label free nature eliminates chemical perturbation seen with fluorescent labellingwhich can modify transport kinetics, cellular uptake and cytotoxicity. CARS is not yet commercially available andUOE offers its flexible prototype that can be configured to generate label free contrast of nanomaterials includingmetal oxides, noble metals, carbon nanotubes and polymers. The daily rate supports technical provision forbespoke experimental design, with accompanying wet laboratory/cell culture room.


Particle exposure assessment:

Nanoparticle exposure assessment techniques are available through UOE Core Facilities.Exposure facilities• UOE offers access to its state-of-the-art exposure aquaria, including a dedicated temperature and atmospherecontrolled nanoparticle exposure suite. These can be performed with the benefit of standard operationprocedures for dosimetry and characterisation which are being developed in parallel through its ongoingprojects. UOE researchers study a comprehensive range of aquatic organisms including OECD approvedspecies fish (fat head minnow, carp, trout, zebrafish, medaka) and invertebrate species (e.g. crustaceans,polychaetes, filter-feeding bivalves) and a wider range of sentinel organisms (algae, terrestrial and mammalianwildlife species). UOE can offer the facilities and technical expertise to support both acute and chronic, early lifestage, reproductive, multi-generational and multi-organism studies, field surveys and associated bioassays.• A dedicated tissue culture facility for exposure assessment accompanies the Multiphoton imaging spectroscopysuite, with full technical support.• Comprehensive facilities for ecotoxicology studies to provide insight at the molecular, cellular and physiologicallevel into the mode(s) of toxicity that underpin potentially adverse health effects of nanoparticles. These includegenetic studies (microarray analysis of global gene expression, quantitative pcr analysis of target genes andpathways), cellular function (oxidative damage especially to DNA, membrane dynamics and transport, cellularfunction and response), whole organism physiology and behaviour (including video tracking). A particular focusof the UOE is in integrating studies of biological impact to take a systems-wide approach, in order to buildpredictive models of the response of biological systems e.g. to nanomaterial exposures.


Research supported by the infrastructure

The School of Biosciences’ researchers are engaged in a wide variety of research, ranging from fundamentalstudies of how biological molecules function to developing an understanding of how organisms interact withone another and within the ecosystems they occupy. The complementary expertise of UOE staff facilitatessynergistic collaborations and a vibrant research culture. The School is one of a select group of Universitiesin the UK participating in the BBSRC’s ‘Excellence with impact’ scheme. This award acknowledges universitydepartments that are most active in embedding a culture that recognises the importance of European-wideeconomic and social impact alongside excellent research.


UOE's research on Nanosafety and the Environmental Risk Assessment of Novel Materials is embraced with theSystems Biology theme and includes strong collaborations with the Functional Materials groups.


Particle characterisation, and Particle exposure assessment.

UOE has a major interest and expertise in developing in vitro and in vivo models for assessing the influence ofphysicochemical characteristics on environmental fate and organism-level interactions of commercially relevantmanufactured nanoparticles (see reference list). Our current studies concentrate on the fate and biologicalinteractions of the materials related to the nanoparticle’s surface properties, and include (a) the developmentof novel tools and techniques for determining how surface chemistry properties of particles are modified duringthe lifecycle of produced particles in the environment and (b) the development and testing of model systems ofsufficient sensitivity and specificity to allow the adequate protection of environmental and human health.A fundamental goal of systems biology (a phrase adopted by biologists, and other scientists, working at scales oforganisation between molecules and cells) is to integrate research across all scales of organisation from genesto ecosystems. The aim is to help predict the response of biological systems to environmental perturbation.Unique to UOE's research efforts in Nano-ecotoxicology is the support the Theme gives to its Nanosafety workin the provision of excellence in facilities, infrastructure and bioinformatics support, allowing the developmentof predictive models across scales of organisation, for the responses of biological and ecological systems tonanoparticle interactions.


Of specific interest is UOE's established place within the UK’s: ‘Ecotoxicology Test Protocols for RepresentativeNanomaterials in Support of the OECD


Sponsorship Programme (ZnO & CeO2)’ which is a million DEFRA/EPSRC/TSB Industry LINK projectfunded through the DEFRA Renewable Materials LINK programme. PROSPEcT is the UK’s contribution to theOECD Sponsorship Programme to examine the environmental safety of nanomaterials in accordance with theagreed OECD WPMN ‘Guidance Manual for Sponsors of the OECD Sponsorship Programme for the Testingof Manufacture Nanomaterials’. It will provide crucial data to the OECD work, by addressing gaps in the currentlevel of knowledge on the physico-chemical and ecotoxicological properties of these materials, followed byfundamental scientific research leading to establishing scientific test methodologies to study those endpoints thatmay not be assessed through standard tests used for bulk chemicals.The PROSPEcT grant is in its early stages, but the expected level of impact will be through high quality scientificoutputs of direct relevance to the societal acceptance and safe use of manufactured nanoparticles. UOE'sresults will contribute directly to the output of the OECD Working Party for Manufactured Nanoparticles andthe Dosimetry subcommittee (for both of which Prof Galloway is an expert member) which are collectivelyassembling standard operating procedures and protocols for the formal risk assessment of manufacturednanoparticles on a global scale. These standard procedures are of fundamental importance in supportingthe economic success and application of manufactured nanoparticles through the provision of scientificevidence of the highest quality and will be firmly embedded within QNano through the present application.www.nanotechia-prospect.org


Services currently offered by the infrastructure and scientific highlights

UOE has a long history of service provision, however, facilities access in the context of Nanosafety is new andit has developed its expertise and capabilities over the past few years in the training of staff and purchase ofappropriate instrumentation to complement pre-existing core facilities. UOE has provided around 100 user daysof access over the last year to its core facilities from external users, mostly UK based.