European Network for diagnosis and treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections (EURESTOP),  (2022-2026).

COST CA21145

MC member: Kaja Kasemets

More information from COST.

3RS Concepts to Improve the Quality of Biomedical Science (IMPROVE), (2022-2026).

COST CA21139

MC member: Anne Kahru

More information from COST.

ANTIBIOtics removal from water by imprinted magnetic nanomaterials (ANTÌBIO), 1.01.2022 – 31.12. 2023.

Total funding from CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy): 189 332 Eur. KBFI’s part of funding: 40 800 Eur.

Coordinator: Dr. Giuliana Impellizzeri (IMM-CNR, Catania, Italy)
Team members of KBFI: Anne Kahru (KBFI PI), Irina Blinova, Villem Aruoja, Mariliis Sihtmäe

The project team will develop new molecularly imprinted inorganic (TiO2, ZnO) and organic polymeric materials for the removal of antibiotics from water. The presence of a magnetic core (Fe3O4 magnetite) will ensure the removal from water. All synthesized materials rely on visible light activation. Amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, and azithromycin will be selected as model antibiotics. The potential environmental risks associated with the nanomaterials, the ecotoxicological tests at NICPB (Tallinn, Estonia) will be performed using Vibrio fischeri, Daphnia magna and Raphidocelis subcapitata. The consortium: the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (IMM) of the Italian National Research Council (IMM-CNR; PI Dr. Giuliana Impellizzeri), the Institute of Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the CNR (IPCB-CNR; PI Dr. Sabrina Carola Carroccio), and the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics (NICPB, PI Dr Anne Kahru) in Estonia.

Advanced antibacterial nanoparticles and wound dressings: proof of concept study, 1.01.2021-31.12.2022.

NICPB Development Fund grant

Leader: Dr. O. Bondarenko
Main contributors at NICPB: Dr. A.-L. Kubo, G. Vasiliev, M.D.

Silver-based nanoparticles are the most widely acknowledged and used nanoparticle-based antimicrobials. Our research group has been studying the antibacterial effects and molecular mechanisms of action of Ag nanoparticles to bacteria since 2008.  In 2019 we developed a technology that enables to enhance antibacterial action of Ag nanoparticles. Current project aims to study the efficiency of this technology towards different antibacterial strains and to develop new antibacterial products based on this technology. Within the frames of this project, we vwill focus on the development of the ptorotypes of advanced antibacterial wound dressings for improved treatment of bacterial wound infection.

Best chemical risk assessment professionals for maximum Ecosystem Services benefit – PRORISK, 1.04.2020−31.03.2024.

EC Horizon 2020, H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019-859891

Leader at NICPB: Dr. A. Kahru
Senior staff at NICPB: Dr. V. Aruoja, Dr. M. Heinlaan, Dr. I. Blinova
Beneficiaries: Masaryk University (Czech Republic), Stichting VU (Netherlands), Norwegian Institute for Water Research (Norway), University of Girona (Spain), National Institute of
Chemical Physics and Biophysics (Estonia), Spanish National Research Council – Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes (Spain), Aarhus University (Denmark), Sheffield University (United Kingdom), Technical University of Denmark (Denmark), Consulteco s.r.o. (Czech Republic), Environmental Institute s.r.o. (Slovak Republic)

Vision of PRORISK is to provide a unique value by creating a novel platform for training a network of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the field of advanced Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA). ERA is nowadays rapidly changing from relying on simplified descriptive laboratory tests to incorporating mechanistic, ecological and socio-economic process information. This revolutionizes the risk assessment making it increasingly comprehensive, realistic and relevant, also under consideration of other modulating effects such as non-chemical stressors or impact of global change. ESRs in PRORISK will gain the abilities to address this major challenge in risk assessment paradigm shift. They will work as future experts at the interface between the key concepts of sustainable protection of ecosystems and health – i.e. adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) and ecosystem services. Young researchers within PRORISK will develop and integrate mechanistic understanding, in-depth analyses of chemical-biological interactions and exposure, and functioning of ecosystems. They will be able to tackle increasingly complex data. They also will be able to critically evaluate robustness of risk predictions and assess the socio-economic costs of environmental damage. PRORISK will allow the ESRs to develop the critical capability to synthesize processes across different levels of biological organization and different mechanistic, ecosystem and socio-economical concepts. This will empower ESRs to shape future regulatory missions protecting the ecosystems services and assuring thus sustainability of ecosystem services and prosperity long beyond the PRORISK project.

Antimicrobial chitosan-nanocomposites for biomedical applications: efficiency and safety, 2020-2024.

Personal Research Funding, PRG749

Leader: Dr. K. Kasemets

Nanotechnologies open new possibilities for the creation of efficient and safe antimicrobials for biomedical applications, e.g., wound-dressing materials and implants that enable to reduce/avoid microbial infections and the formation of antibiotic-resistant strains. We aim to create chitosan nanocomposites (CS-NCs) with dual synergistic properties by combining antimicrobial properties of Ag and CuO nanoparticles with immune-stimulating properties of chitosan. We (i) synthesize libraries of CS NCs, (ii) test their antimicrobial potency to pathogenic bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli) and fungi (Candida sp), including antibiotic-resistant strains, (iii) evaluate safety to human fibroblasts, keratinocytes, endothelial cells and macrophages, and pro-inflammatory response in vitro, and (iv) link the biological effects with physicochemical properties of CS-NCs. Most optimal CS-NCs will be structurally analyzed with NMR and assessed for safety using the EpiDerm 3D in vitro skin model, to identify CS-NCs with the highest efficiency and minimum adverse side effects to human.

Nanocomposite Engineered Particles for Phosphorus Recovery and Toxicological Risk Assessment for the Aquatic Environment, 1.09.2020−31.12.2022


Vastutav täitja: Dr. A. Drenkova-Tuhtan
Juhendaja KBFIs: Dr. A. Kahru
Osalejad KBFIs: MSc H. Vija, Dr V. Auoja, Dr M. Sihtmäe, Dr I. Blinova

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient and a key element for agriculture and global food security. Phosphate rock, however, is a finite resource included in the list of critical raw materials for the European Union. Moreover, the remaining reserves have an increasing content of toxic impurities and are concentrated only in a few countries worldwide, leading to a strong import dependency for the nations with resource deficits. Nevertheless, large quantities of phosphorus are present in wastewater and agricultural runoff, representing an untapped secondary source of the valuable nutrient. Engineered nanostructured materials, predominantly metal oxide/hydroxide particles, have been frequently reported as excellent adsorbents for phosphorus in wastewater. However, the uncertainty regarding possible ecotoxicological hazards arising from the application of these materials has opened new research gaps. The main goal of the EU-funded project NanoPhosTox is to test the ecological impact of several promising new nanocomposite P-absorbent particles and optimize their composition to exclude any environmental risks. The potential ecotoxicological hazards will be assessed following OECD and ISO test protocols for ecotoxicity, such as Vibrio fischeri, Algae and Daphnia assays. Ensuring that the materials and their precursors are environmentally friendly will help progress towards commercial application of these promising new P-adsorbents.

Assessment of hazard of UV weathered microplastics in aquatic environment (UV-PLASTOX) , 2020-2022.

Mobilitas Pluss Postdoctoral Researcher Grant, project MOBJD509

Leader: Dr. A. Khosrovyan

The adverse effect of the microplastic (< 5 mm) pollution on environment is increasingly acknowledged with oceans and surface waters as most concerned compartments. Warningly, there are big ‘ecotoxicological’ knowledge gaps concerning: (i) the impact of UV-weathering on water leachable toxicity of ‘conventional’ and biodegradable microplastic ; (ii) long-term toxic effects for planktonic vs benthic organisms and (iii) the effect of nanoplastic. In this project we will adapt a novel method introduced by EU JP Oceans project WEATHER MIC for evaluation of UV-facilitated water leachable toxicity of microplastic to our Laboratory conditions and apply that also for biodegradable microplastic. Thus, we will generate new data on the potential ecotoxicological effects of different sizes and types of UV-weathered microplastic to selected fresh and marine water planktonic and benthic organisms. Connection between the toxic effects and chemical composition of the leachates will be searched.

Response of algal communities to toxicants with different modes of action, 2019-2022.

Start-up grant PSG311

Leader: Dr. V. Aruoja

The aquatic risk assessment of existing and emerging pollutants is mainly based on toxicity assays using artificial culture media and one species at a time. While such experiments are useful for comparisons of chemicals, the results are difficult to apply in real life situations with complex matrices and multi-species exposures. The relevance of aquatic toxicity assays can be improved by using media based on natural water and a community of species instead of one. This is already employed in the mainstream of ecology that deals with biodiversity, functional diversity and resistance of communities to external stress. The current proposal combines the two fields providing a more realistic approach to environmental effects of three major classes of toxicants with different modes of action: organic chemicals, pesticides and nanoparticles.

Functional Glyconanomaterials for the Development of Diagnostics and Targeted Therapeutic Probes (GLYCONanoPROBES), 2019-2023.

COST CA18132

MC member: Dr. K. Kasemets

Rohkem infot COST-ist.

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