Mobilitas Pluss Postdoctoral Researcher Grant, project MOBJD509
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.
Start-up grant PSG311
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.
NICPB Development Fund grant
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.
Target grants aimed at solving the problems caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVSG16)
Scientific data suggests airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Meta-analysis shows that face masks reduce the risk of the viral infection around 80% in the best cases, mostly less. These masks are single-use and do not contain active virucidal ingredients. The main goal of the current project is to develop new virucidal filtering materials and produce face masks from thereof. We will 1) test a set of antiseptical nanoparticels and choose the ones that are the most effective against SARS-CoV-2; 2) produce nanoparticles-containing filtering materials and the face masks. There are three science partners (NICPB, UT, TalTech) and one industrial partner (Esfil Tehno) in the project. NICPB will characterize nanoparticles, TalTech will develop filtering materials, Esfil Tehno will produce the face masks and UT will conduct virological tests. The main outcome of the project are novel efficient virucidal face masks produced by the local industry.
Aim of the project NAMUR+ is to establish the Estonian Research Infrastructures Roadmap object – an infrastructure/excellence centre for the nanomaterials research and development, and their safety assessment bringing together projects partners’ already exciting and in the future purchased high-technology equipment. The partners of NAMUR+ are Tartu University, Tallinn University of Technology and National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics (Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology, leading partner for the nanomaterials safety assessment).
Personal Research Funding, PRG684
The progress has always been related to the discovery and application of novel materials. However, the successful commercialization of innovative materials depends also on timely forecast of potential associated environmental risks, to avoid ecological and societal problems. Technology-critical elements (TCEs), including lanthanides, are crucial components in many high-tech technologies and due to unique properties their replacement by other elements is very difficult. TCEs are considered emerging contaminants as recent technological developments have resulted in accumulation of TCEs in the soil and water raising a concern on safe environmental levels of TCEs. However, there are large knowledge gaps on environmental fate and potential hazard of TCEs to ecosystems. The goal of the current project is to obtain new scientific knowledge on the potential ecological consequences of elevated concentrations of TCEs (focusing on lanthanides)in the environment.
Proof-of-concept grant, EAG20
The aim of the present project is to develop further the technology of manufacturing antimicrobial coatings based on ZnO/Ag nanocomposite particles. First of all, such coatings are planned to be applied in hospitals as well as in public spaces on high-touch surfaces, which would also be exposed to UV-A or solar radiation at some stage. Compared to the products already on the market, the advantage of our solution is three simultaneously acting functionalities: zinc ions, silver ions and reactive oxygen radicals. In addition, on such coatings organic residues from dead microbes are photocatalytically decomposed. During this project, we plan to validate the ZnO/Ag nanocomposite material surface fixation and also to test wearability, stability and antimicrobial efficacy of the surfaces in real-life conditions. According to our previous experience, Estonian companies are interested in such antimicrobial coatings, but our current low technology readiness level has hindered the collaboration.
Opportunities for mitigation of bee losses (ForBee), 2019-2021.
Lead partner: Eesti Maaülikool (Dr. M. Mänd, Dr. A. Viltrop); partners: TÜ (Dr. V. Sõber) and NICPB (Dr. A. Kahru)
NICPB main contributor: Dr. I. Blinova, Dr. A. Lukjanova, Dr. M. Sihtmäe
Pollinators are vital for natural and agricultural ecosystems. Yet, recent trends indicate declines in their numbers and species richness. This decline is due to multiple stressors acting in parallel and synergizing the effects of each other. Moreover, each region carries its specific characteristics and stressors, creating the need for a region-based approach. The project ‘Opportunities for mitigation of bee losses’ will generate recommendations for efficient conservation as well as beekeeping measures. The new scientific knowledge gained by the project allows us to fill existing data gaps and provide optimal measures to mitigate bee losses in Estonia. The project will create the Project Network; evaluate the effects of habitat- and landscape-level factors affecting pollinators; analyse existing veterinary problems and toxic compounds relevant to Estonian conditions; analyse the severity of existing stressor and generate protocols for policymakers to mitigate the effects.
Nanoparticle-macrophage interactions in vitro: Focus on nanosafety, 2016-2021.
Personal Research Funding, PUT1015
Leader: Dr. O. Bondarenko
Nanoparticles (NPs) offer unique properties for biomedical applications. Therapeutic use of NPs implies their administration into bloodstream, where NPs inevitably come into contact with the immune cells and pose immunotoxicity concerns. Macrophages are phagocytizing immune cells that directly interact with NPs and can be used as in vitro model to study possible immunotoxic effects of NPs. The main aim of this proposal is to reveal physico-chemical properties of NPs that can be modified to reduce NP toxicity to human macrophages, without compromising their beneficial function(s). Medically perspective Fe, Ag and CuO NPs and their novel modifications were selected for the study, aiming to link chemical composition, size and surface coating of NPs to their in vitro effects in macrophages, focusing on toxicity mechanisms and immune responses. As the main output, we will provide novel structure-related immunotoxicity information for NPs that is crucial for biomedical applications.
Evaluation of the potential hazardous effects of microplastic to marine and freshwater zooplankton, 2017-2021.
Personal Research Funding, PUT1512
Leader: Dr. M. Heinlaan
Microplastic (MP) waste (particles ≤ 5 mm) in the waterbodies is accumulating rapidly yet the current knowledge and scientific proof on the potential consequences of this pollution is not sufficient to choose the most effective countermeasures to fight this problem. The main objective of the current project is to evaluate the hazardous effects of of MP on marine and freshwater zooplankton – the base of aquatic food-webs. For that, we will perform hazard assessment of different particle types of the most wide-spread low-density polymers. Special focus will be on linking the particle properties to the observed effects, mapping the sub-lethal effects as early warnings of instability of the aquatic populations in the long-run and evaluating the MP role as the co-contaminant carrier. As the main outcome, novel information, data and hazard assessment protocols will be provided for better understanding the MP waste problem and application for regulatory and further research purposes.
European Network of Vaccine Adjuvants, 2017-2021.
MC member: Dr. O. Bondarenko
More information from COST.
Anti-Microbial Coating Innovations to prevent infectious diseases (AMICI), 2016-2020.
MC members: Dr. A. Kahru, Dr. K. Kasemets
More information from COST.
Institutional Research Funding, IUT23-5
Rapidly developing nanotechnologies offer the mankind countless benefits on the background of limited information on the respective environmental and health risks. ToxBe aims evaluating the existing and obtaining new scientific knowledge on chemical and nanoparticle (NP) safety. For that, we will first critically analyze the existing literature on environmental hazards of NPs, e.g., identify potential descriptors for QSAR models. Targeted (eco)toxicological testing will be used (i) to fill the data gaps on environmental hazard of NPs and (ii) to generate homogenous training sets for QSARs. Further, the toxicological pathways of hazardous NPs – solubilization, induction of reactive oxygen species, interference with biomembranes and -molecules will be identified by refining the existing and designing new cost-effective bioassays. To increase the environmental relevance, environmentally more relevant species, test conditions and simplified laboratory food chains will be used.
Personal Research Funding, PUT748
Nanosized (1-100nm) materials have big expectations in almost every industrial domain. Currently one of the most important areas is development of novel nanoantimicrobials. From nanotechnological consumer products currently on the market about 30% are designed to avoid spreading of unwanted microbes. These products involve novel nanomaterials for surface treatments, incorporation into various textiles as well as creating new biocidal preparations to desinfect the skin. The main goal of the current project is the development of a biological tool-box – a suite of in vitro methods using various bacteria and mammalian cells – for ’safe-by-design’ approach in developing highly efficient nano-antimicrobial materials with minimum unwanted side-effects to humans. The main emphasis will be given to design and testing of silver, copper, titanium dioxide and zinc nanoparticles that could be later used in surface coatings, antibacterial matrices e.g., textiles, and potentially, skin disinfectants.
Ordered by Ministry of the Environment, financed by Environmental Investment Centre
ETF grant No. 9347
Post-Doctoral Research Funding, PUTJD16
EC FP7 project MODERN (MODeling the EnviRonmental and human health effects of Nanomaterials) 2013-2015.
Call: FP7-NMP-2012-SMALL-6; NMP.2012.1.3-2: Modeling toxicity behavior of engineered nanoparticles
Collarborative project with 7 partners. Coordinator: Dr. Francesc Giralt (URV, Spain). NICPB PI: Dr. A. Kahru
The main goal of MODERN is to establish new modeling approaches suitable for relating nanotoxicity with the intrinsic molecular and physicochemical properties of eNPs at environmental exposure levels and to implement safe-by-design nanoparticle design strategies. This implies three specific objectives: (i) To apply computational models for the characterization of the structural and physicochemical properties leading to QNPRs and safe-by-design strategies for eNPs; (ii) to develop in silico models (QNAR) of biological activity of eNPs in the body and in the environment; and (iii) to establish a categorization and hazard ranking protocol for eNPs based on structural similarity principles and in the analysis of their toxicological profiles.
EC FP7 project NANOVALID (Development of reference methods for hazard identification, risk assessment and LCA of engineered nanomaterials, 2011-2015.
Call: NMP.2010.1.3-1; Reference methods for managing the risk of engineered nanoparticles (grant agreement No 263147).
FP7 Large-scale integrating Collaborative Project with 35 partners. Coordinator: Dr. Rudolf Reuther (NordMiljö, Sweden). NICPB PI: Dr. A. Kahru
The growing development, production and use of engineered nanomaterials and associated products will increase exposure of both humans and ecosystems to these new materials.However, current knowledge is still incomplete and established test methods are as yet inappropriate to reliably assess the extent of exposure and risk of materials at the nanoscale. There is an urgent need to develop methods to overcome the current limitations of existing hazard and risk assessment schemes and to generate the body of reference data needed as the basis for regulative requirements and for measures to safeguard production, application and disposal of nanomaterials. The proposed project will mobilize the critical mass of international scientific knowledge and technical expertise required to address these questions. Current analytical and toxicity test methods and models will be put to test and subjected to rigorous intercalibration and validation. Where necessary, methods and test materials will be modified, adapted and validated, and new reliable reference methods developed, in cooperation with international standardization bodies and the concerned industry, to support both pre- and co-normative activities and to make the applicability of existing RA and LCA schemes to ENPs more reliable. The feasibility of validated measurement, characterization and test methods will be assessed by selected case studies to help the significant improvement of the performance of existing exposure monitoring systems as well as the development of new risk management and reduction strategies.
ETF grant No. 9001
The aim of the project is to investigate how the antibiotic residues and nanoparticles (NPs) may act separately or in tandem on the wastewater treatment effectiveness and microbial community as well as on the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the wastewater treatment system. Additionally, the impact of wastewater composition on the physical-chemical properties of NPs (e.g. size, ζ-potential) will be assessed and the dissolved fraction of the metal ions will be quantified by the recombinant metal-specific bacteria.
Supporting the development of R&D of biotechnology
National R&D program „Materials technology“.
“Environmental protection and technology R&D programme (KESTA)” of the measure “Supporting environmental technology research and development activities”
National R&D program „Energy“.
ETF grant No. 8561
Risk Management and Remediation of Chemical Accidents (RIMA) EU Interreg IV A programme, 2011-2013.
European Union and European Regional Development Fund grant; Budget according to contract – 257,897 eur (ERDF funding 219,212 eur)
Finnish-Estonian project, 3 partners. Coordinator: S. Kauppi. NICPB PI: Dr. I. Blinova
The main objective is to improve prevention to chemical transportation accidents in Southern Finland and Estonia where the importance of transportation is emphasized because the joint border with Russia. Increasing information about transported chemicals enhance the protection of soil, surface waters and groundwater. The aim is by risk assessment to help local authorities to predict environmental fate and effects of chemicals in various accident situations and pay their attention to the most hazardous chemicals. The main academic tasks of NICPB are: collecting data on transported chemicals, on the history of transport accidents in Estonia; collection of data on (eco)toxicity and environmental fate of chemicals from literature and the existing databases; laboratory toxicity testing of selected chemicals, communication and networking with target groups in Estonia and organizing meetings in Tallinn.
NICPB Target Financed Project SF0690063s08
The project will seek for new scientific knowledge on toxic effects and mechanisms of action of REACH-relevant industrial chemicals, synthetic nanoparticles and natural toxins of snake venoms. Applying 3Rs approach (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement), simple prokaryotic and eukaryotic model organisms will be used with special attention on cellular molecular targets, molecular interactions and integrated organism-level responses. New worked out testing strategies will be useful for hazard evaluation of nanoparticles but also for implementation of EC new chemical policy REACH. This mechanism-oriented research provides knowledge and tools for targeted design of drugs, antidotes and new antioxidants.
ETF grant No. 8066
ETF grant No. 7686.
EC FP6 project OSIRIS (Optimized Strategies for Risk assessment of industrial chemicals through integration of non-test and test information), 2007-2011.
FP6-2005-GLOBAL-4 (OJ 2005 C 177/15), Proposal N° 037017-2
Integrated project with 31 partners. Coordinator: Prof. G. Schüürmann (UFZ, Berlin). NICPB PI: Dr. A. Kahru
Goal: to develop integrated test strategies fit for REACH that make it possible to significantly increase the use of non-testing information for regulatory decision making, and to effectively reduce animal testing to the level needed from a risk perspective.
Ecotoxicological studies within the framework of contract between AS Eesti Energia and Estonian University of Life Sciences
EMP 45 grant
ETF grant No. 6974
ETF grant No. 6956
Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation Grant
National Programme: Collections for the Humanities and Natural Sciences, project HLK04-4
NICPB Basic Funding Project
Goal: to study the biological effects of nanoparticles (e.g., nanosized metal oxides TiO2, ZnO, CuO) on in vitro models (recombinant microorganisms, non-vertebrate animals, human and animal cell cultures)Main tasks:- to evaluate hazardous effects on different level of biological organisation/complexity and transfer via food-web; – to elucidate the mechanisms of toxic action
ETF grant No. 6199
Target Financed Project 0222601Bs03
Mobility grant for coperation between Estonia and France (a Parrot framework)
Funded by Enterprise Estonia (via EU structural funding).
The project involves sub-tasks on dissemination of ecotoxicological knowledge to Estonian industries and environmental authorities, elaboration of international networking. The organizing of ETS-SSCT 2005 Meeting “Chemicals, human, environment” was one of the involved activities.
ETF grant No. 5551
Funded by Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Integration Program for EU Candidate Count
NATO Collaborate Linkage Grant EST CLG No 978297
Maj ja Tor Nessling Fondi Grant