Grant for development of Lung-on-Chip for research into the fate of nanoplastics

Sunday, 7 April

hDMT researchers Bastien Venzac and Séverine Le Gac from the University of Twente together with Flemming Cassee from RIVM received a grant from ZonMw for the development of a new lung-on-chip system.

Plastic microfibers originating from, for example, synthetic clothing, furniture, and carpets, end up in the air. This means that we breathe in microplastic particles every day. Are our lungs able to eliminate these plastic particles, as they do for fine dust, for example? Or do plastic particles accumulate in lung tissue and cause damage? Or is it perhaps even possible that the plastics we inhale spread to the rest of our bodies via the bloodstream?

Their project entitled: Microfluidics-based alveolar barrier model to evaluate nanoplastic translocation, is one of the three studies working on the repercussions of the inhalation of micro-and nanoplastics have been approved.

"We will develop a new advanced lung-on-chip system, with a tubular epithelium architecture on a 3D collagen to better mimic the physical microenvironment of alveolar epithelium, with an integrated breathing mechanical stimulation. Nanoplastic toxicity and translocation through the epithelium will be assessed with this new model," explains Séverine Le Gac, one of the scientists involved. And thereby avoiding the use of animal testing.

"The advantage of a lung-on-chip system is that it gives a better predictive output than classical Transwell systems used in the field for toxicity of micro and nanoplastics. We will develope and validate the lung-on-chip model."

Photo: Chesapeake bay program, Will Parson

Project information

Title: Microfluidics-based alveolar barrier model to evaluate nanoplastic translocation

Partners: University of Twente, Dr. Bastien Venzac & Dr. Séverine Le Gac; RIVM, Prof. Flemming Cassee

Grant: ZonMW Microplastics & Health (in Dutch)

Official project summary:

Representing over 150 million tons, plastic pollution in oceans is acknowledged as a serious threat for the sea fauna and flora. Plastic debris' exist as micro and nanoparticles, which are either generated through the decomposition of larger plastic pieces, or already present in consumers' products like cosmetics, food packaging and clothes. These plastic particles can be harmful for human beings, in particular through their ingestion and inhalation, although little is known about their effects on human health and whether they can reach more sensitive organs via the blood stream. With our expertise in building organ models and inhalation nanotoxicology, we will develop a miniaturized artificial human lung, which recapitulates the architecture of the organ and includes breathing-like motions. The passage of model and real-life nanoplastics through this artificial lung barrier will be evaluated, avoiding thereby the use of animal testing.

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