3Rs Stimulus Fund: studying traffic-derived particulates

5 years ago

Remco Westerink, a neurotoxicologist with Utrecht University’s IRAS (Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences) will join 14 other international partners to study the effects of traffic-derived nanoparticles (ultrafines) on the health of the nervous system. This research is part of the European H2020 project ‘Transport-derived Ultrafines and Brain Effects’ (TUBE).

Nanoparticles from vehicle exhaust gases are known to cause lung damage. A connection with cardiovascular disease has also been identified. Studying the effects of these particles on the nervous system is a logical next step.

3Rs Stimulus Fund provided a stepping stone

Westerink had previously been awarded a grant from the Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht’s 3Rs Stimulus Fund to test the potential of combining mini-lungs and mini-brains in a single experiment. He will use the results of this earlier study in this European research project.

The aim of this new research is to gain insight into the hazardous effects of nanoparticles on lungs and brains as they interact in the way they would in a living body, in a realistic way but without animal experiments. This is because our brain cells are not directly exposed to air pollution; any substances that can ultimately reach the brain are taken up by the lungs first. Combining lung and brain cells will give a more complete and realistic understanding of the possible harmful effects of nanoparticles from traffic.