Project objectives

Confocal image of A549 alveolar basal epithelial cells
Lung cells

Our goal is to develop an innovative miniaturised high-throughput screening tool for risk assessment of novel nanomaterial, with the capability to reliably analyse the interactions between these nanomaterials and increasing levels of biological complexity. In order to achieve this, we have set the following seven project objectives:

  1. Synthesise and characterise nanomaterials to be used to test the modules and platform performance.
  2. Design and test effective screening modules, each representing a particular physiological function. Nine different chip-based sensing modules will be developed:
    • Genetic modules: DNA and miRNA
    • Bio-membrane module
    • Single cell module
    • Organ modules: Lung, intestine, liver module, kidney and placenta
  3. Configure robust electro-chemical and optical techniques to measure the effects of nanoparticles in individual modules, and integrate these with sensor chips.
  4. Integrate the screening modules into a miniaturised and effective micro-fluidic flow system to allow high throughput screening of nanomaterials.
  5. Develop smart automated signal processing data-recognition techniques for analysis of test results
  6. Carry out a comprehensive performance evaluation of the platform, starting with individual modules.
  7. Perform an independent systems-biology simulation of the screening platform covering the transport and bioactivity of individual nanomaterials and mechanistic pathway analysis (reaction-diffusion, molecular mechanics, and quantum chemical simulations). This will then be compared to the experimental results.


Project structure

Adipogenic differentiation of stem cells. Blue: nucleus. Green: lipid droplets
Fat cell differentiation

The project is divided into nine work package covering the scientific and technical aspects of the project, exploitation and dissemination of results, ethic requirements and project management. Each work package is managed by a work package leader who is responsible for the timely delivery of deliverables to the Coordinator, who in turn represents the Consortium to the Commission.

  • WP1: Nanomaterial synthesis and characterisation (Victor Puntes, ICN2)
  • WP2: High throughput screening smart instrumentation and integration (Vladimir Ogurtsov, Tyndall UCC)
  • WP3: High content analysis toxicogenomics (Eckart Meese, Universität des Saarlandes)
  • WP4: in vitro sensing modules (Peter Ertl, TU Wien)
  • WP5: Modelling mechanisms, pathways and effects (Peter Šimon, STUBA)
  • WP6: Calibration, standardisation, performance and validation (Andrew Nelson, University of Leeds)
  • WP7: Dissemination and exploitation (Mick Karol, Blueprint Product Design)
  • WP8: Project management and coordination (Andrew Nelson, University of Leeds)
  • WP9: Ethic requirements (Andrew Nelson, University of Leeds)

In addition to the internal management structure, there will also be two external advisory committees:

  • a Scientific Advisory Committee with international members constituted from environmental agencies, health and safety organisations, non-governmental organisations, such as Environmental Protection Agency, OECD, etc. to advise on regulatory and legislative matters concerning the uptake of the research developed during the HISENTS project, along with appropriate industrial companies from the personal care, pharmaceutical, public health and agricultural sectors; and,
  • an End User Group made up of industrial producers and users of toxicity sensing platforms, who will advise on the design of the HISENTS platform to be fit-for-purpose for end use. The end user group will be chaired by the Nanotechnology Industries Association.