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Graphene activates immune cells helping bone regeneration in mice

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, November 28, 2019
Graphene has been used for many years in the aeronautics and automotive industries and is even used to create new composites. However, it still has a long way to go to offer the consumer the revolutionary applications promised since Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. A team of researchers from several Italian universities within the Graphene Flagship Consortium intends to change this and apply it to regenerative medicine therapies.

Publications about the biomedical applications of graphene-based materials have increased in recent years. So says the researcher from Graphene Flagship partner University of Padua (Italy) Lucia Gemma Delogu, who considers that this is due to its "incredible" physicochemical properties, a long list that ranges from its high flexibility and resistance to its good conductivity, both electrical and thermal.

Delogu and her team have worked to take advantage of the material in the field of biomedicine. Their study, published this year in Nanoscale, shows how the immune properties of graphene allow bone tissue to regenerate in mice. This is possible through nano-tools that can activate or deactivate the immune response, an approach that is of great interest for cancer therapies and tissue engineering.

"Graphene-based materials can improve bone regeneration, a complex process that requires interaction between immune and skeletal cells," Delogu explains to Sinc. In the study, the researchers combined a type of graphene oxide with calcium phosphate, a substance capable of activating this regeneration.

"The injection of the graphene-based material into the tibia of mice showed an improvement in the bone mass in the area and in bone formation, suggesting that the combination is capable of activating monocytes to induce osteogenesis," continues the researcher.

How does the body respond to graphene?

Delogu is also the coordinator of the G-Immunomics project, whose objective is to analyse the impact of graphene on the health of living beings, with a view to its possible biomedical applications. G-Immunomics is one of the Partnering Projects of the Graphene Flagship, a European consortium of more than 150 research centres and companies, with a budget of 1,000 million euros and the goal of taking graphene and related materials towards application.

"The use of graphene in biomedicine may revolutionize medical protocols with new theranostic approaches," a concept that merges the terms "therapy" and "diagnosis" in the context of personalized medicine. "If we learn how graphene interacts with our immune system, we will be able to explore much more specific therapies for the treatment of diseases," she says.

The researcher explains that these interactions are complex, so it is still "an image that lacks several colours." By injecting a material, it comes into contact with the immune cells in the blood, which means that studying the impact of graphene on the immune response is "fundamental".

For this reason, Delogu's team is also studying how graphene can stimulate or suppress the immune response. "Our research wants to show a broad picture of the interaction of immune cells in blood with layered materials such as those based on graphene," with the ultimate goal of their possible to apply in biomedicine efficiently but also safely.

Graphene against osteoporosis
Diseases related to bone loss, such as osteoporosis, are a problem for millions of people worldwide. The World Health Organisation estimates that, in Europe alone, 22 million women and 5.5 million men aged 50-84 suffer from osteoporosis.

"Our preclinical research reveals that functionalized graphene may offer a medical opportunity to fight these bone-related diseases," says Delogu. "By promoting bone regeneration, they could also be used to improve the healing of bone wounds and shorten their duration."

Even, she says, "to combat bone loss suffered by astronauts due to lack of gravity". In this área, Delogu is involved in the project WHISKIES recently funded by the European Space Agency.

For all these reasons, she is confident that graphene can a have a future in biomedicine "We are at an early stage, but we hope that the work will open the door to real clinical applications for graphene-based materials," she says. Her dream is to explore the immunological potential of graphene in other fields of regenerative medicine.

Tags:  Andre Geim  Graphene  Healthcare  Konstantin Novoselov  Lucia Gemma Delogu  Medical  University of Padua 

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New graphene-based material developed for medical implants

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, May 2, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2019
A group of scientists have developed a new material for biomedical applications by combining a graphene-based nanomaterial with Hydroxyapatite (HAp), a commonly used bioceramic in implants.

In recent years, biometallic implants have become popular as a means to repair, restructure or replace damaged or diseased parts in orthopaedic and dental procedures. Metal parts also find use in devices such as pacemakers.

However, metallic implants face several limitations and are not a permanent solution. They react with body fluids and corrode, release wear and tear debris resulting in toxins and inflammation. They also have high thermal expansion and low compressive strength causing pain and are dense and may cause reactions.

On the other hand, bioceramics do not have these limitations. HAp specifically is osteoconductive, with a bone-like porous structure offering the required scaffold for tissue re-growth. However, it is brittle and lacks the mechanical strength of metals. The problem is overcome by combining it with nanoparticles of materials such as Zirconia.

In the new research, scientists have combined HAp with graphene nanoplatelets. “Previously reported studies have focused on only structural properties of such composites without throwing light on their biological properties. We have found that combining HAp with graphene nanomaterial enhances mechanical strength, provides better in-vivo imaging and biocompatibility without changing its basic bone-like properties,” explained Dr Gautam Chandkiram, the principal investigator at University of Lucknow, while speaking to India Science Wire.

Purification of the base ceramic material is a significant primary challenge in fabricating composites. According to scientists, in the current study, highly efficient biocompatible Hydroxyapatite was successfully prepared via a microwave irradiation technique and the consequent composites was synthesised using a simple solid-state reaction method.

The process involved mixing different concentrations of graphene nanoplatelet powders and drying, crushing, sieving and ball-milling the resulting slurry. The fine composite powder was further cold-compressed and sintered at 1200 degrees Celsius to achieve the desired density.

The scientists found that the composite had adequate interfacial area between the nanoparticles, with the graphene nanoplatelets well distributed into the hydroxyapatite matrix, while exhibiting high fracture resistance. Further, structural characterization, mechanical and load bearing tests showed that the 2D nature of graphene improves the load transfer efficiency significantly.

Researchers also examined cell viability of the composite by observing metabolic activity in specific cells using a procedure known as MTT assay. They used gut tissues of Drosophila larvae and primary osteoblast cells of a rat. “The overall cell viability studies demonstrated that there is no cytotoxic effect of the composites on any cell type,” explained Dr. Gautam.

Biomaterials also find use in drug delivery and bioimaging diagnosis. “Our research on the composite found that it displays a better fluorescence behaviour as compared to pure hydroxyapatite, indicating it has a great potential in bone engineering and bioimaging bio-imaging applications as well,” he added.

Tags:  2D Materials  Gautam Chandkiram  Graphene  Medical  nanomaterials  University of Lucknow 

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Graphene and 2D Materials on Track to Innovative Applications

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The CORDIS Results Pack showcases 12 articles on 6 ambitious cutting-edge EU research projects funded under the EU’s FP7 and Horizon 2020 research programmes relevant to graphene and 2D materials. Of these, seven articles cover different aspects of the Graphene Flagship. 


The Graphene Flagship is the EU’s biggest research initiative and has a budget of EUR 1 billion, representing a new form of joint, coordinated research initiative on an unprecedented scale. Through a combined academic-industrial consortium, the research effort covers the entire value chain, from materials production to components and system integration, aiming to exploit the unique properties of graphene. 

An introduction to graphene outlines work conducted by the Flagship including collaboration with the European Space Agency over the use of graphene in space applications such as light propulsion and thermal management. Researchers also used optoelectronic communication systems to provide fast data for the future. The large-scale production of graphene for commercial market applications involved scaling up manufacturing to industrial scale whilst maintaining consistency high quality and cost efficiency.

Scientists investigated chemical processing and functional applications of graphene and graphene-related materials for engineering new molecular structures with unique properties. Graphene spintronics utilised both electron charge and spin at room temperature to create new possibilities for information processing and storage. Finally the Flagship has investigated the use of graphene for biomedical applications to develop innovative medical devices and sensors for detecting treating and managing nervous system diseases. 

European graphene research doesn’t all fall under the remit of the Flagship and researchers are using other EU funding mechanisms to undertake other projects. GRAPHEALTH produced the next generation of wearable sensors while GRASP applied interactions between graphene and light to quantum computing and biomedicine. GraTA developed tunneling accelerometers for use in machine vibration monitoring. HIGRAPHEN created dense polymer composites for use in optoelectronics and energy storage. PolyGraph (working closely with the Graphene Flagship) studied graphene-reinforced polymers for use in the aeronautics and automobiles sectors.

Tags:  2D materials  Cordis  Graphene  Medical  The Graphene Flagship 

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Biodegradable Graphene

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Degradation of pristine graphene occurs in the human body when interacting with a naturally occurring enzyme found in the lung, announced Graphene Flagship partners; the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), University of Strasbourg, Karolinska Institute and University of Castilla–La Mancha (UCLM).

Graphene based products are being designed to be interfaced with the human body within the Graphene Flagship, including flexible biomedical electronic devices.  If graphene is to be used for such biomedical applications, it should be biodegradable and thus be expelled from the body.

To test how graphene behaves within the body, Alberto Bianco and his team at Graphene Flagship partner CNRS, conducted several tests looking at if and how graphene was broken down with the addition of a common human enzyme. The enzyme in question, myeloperoxidase (MPO), is a peroxide enzyme released by neutrophils, cells that are responsible for the elimination of any foreign bodies or bacteria that enter the body, found in the lungs. If a foreign body or bacteria is detected inside of the body, neutrophils surround it and secrete MPO, thereby destroying the threat. Previous work by Graphene Flagship partners found MPO to successfully biodegrade graphene oxide [Small, 20151; Nanoscale, 20182]. However the structure of non-functionalized graphene was thought to be more degradation resistant.  To test this, Bianco and his team looked at the effects of MPO, ex vivo, on two graphene forms; single- and few-layer.

Bianco explains, "We used two forms of graphene, single- and few-layer, prepared by two different methods in water. They were then taken and put in contact with myeloperoxidase in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. This peroxidase was able to degrade and oxidise them. This was not really expected because we thought that non functionalized graphene was more resistant than graphene oxide."

Rajendra Kurapati, first author on the study, from Graphene Flagship partner CNRS, said, "The results emphasize that highly dispersible graphene could be degraded in the body by the action of neutrophils. This would open the new avenue for developing graphene-based materials."

With successful ex-vivo testing, in-vivo testing is the next stage. Bengt Fadeel, Professor at Graphene Flagship partner Karolinska Institute, "Understanding whether graphene is biodegradable or not is important for biomedical and other applications of this material. The fact that cells of the immune system are capable of handling graphene is very promising."

Prof. Maurizio Prato, leader of Work Package 4, dealing with Health and Environment impact studies,  based at Graphene Flagship Partner University of Trieste, said, "The enzymatic degradation of graphene is a very important topic, because in principle, graphene dispersed in the atmosphere could produce some harm. Instead, if there are microorganisms able to degrade graphene and related materials, the persistence of these materials in our environment will be strongly decreased. These types of studies are needed. What is also needed is to investigate the nature of degradation products. Once graphene is digested by enzymes, it could produce harmful derivatives. We need to know the structure of these derivatives and study their impact on health and environment."

Prof. Andrea C. Ferrari, Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship, and chair of its management panel added "The report of a successful avenue for graphene biodegradation is a very important step forward to ensure the safe use of this material in applications. The Graphene Flagship has put the investigation of the health and environment effects of graphene at the centre of its programme since the start. These results strengthen our innovation and technology roadmap"

Tags:  Alberto Bianco  Andrea C. Ferrari  French National Centre for Scientific Research  Graphene  Karolinska Institute  Maurizio Prato  Medical  Rajendra Kurapati  The Graphene Flagship  University of Castilla–La Mancha  University of Strasbourg 

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Graphene enables a test for cancer that is faster, more accurate and less expensive!

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Monday, October 16, 2017

An international team of researchers led by Professor Steven Conlan, Swansea University Medical School and the Centre for NanoHealth has won an international award for a graphene biosensor based diagnostic test for ovarian cancer which is quicker, more accurate, less expensive and portable.

The team developed a testing device which can diagnose ovarian cancer in a few minutes using a drop of blood. This portable technology is different from the ones currently in the hospital environment and allows for greater flexibility in terms of monitoring a patient even after she has already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

As well as the test being simple and fast the test does not require a technically-developed laboratory or a specialized technician to operate it which reduces costs and means that there isn’t a need for a centralisation of services. The device can also be used with other biomarkers to detect other types of disease.

Ovarian cancer research award ‌Professor Conlan, together with colleagues Dr Sofia Teixeira (Swansea University College of Engineering), Drs Lewis Francis, Deya Gonzalez and Lavinia Margarit (from the Swansea University Medical School), and Dr Ines Pinto from the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, INL, Braga, Portugal have been recognised for their pioneering work with the award of the i3S Hovine Capital Health Innovation prize.
 
Professor Conlan said: “The Hovione prize will allow the team to initiate the process of moving our device from the lab to the patient. Whilst there is much work to be done, this is an important step towards the better and earlier diagnosis of patients with ovarian cancer. Cooperation between the two European centres has been key in realising this achievement.”

i3S Hovine Capital Health Innovation prize, created this year, aims at distinguishing innovative ideas in the area of health. The winners of the grand prize receive €35,000 in financing and services that include a market study, development of a business plan, technology validation by industrial experts, and support in setting up a company based on the winning technology.

The i3S-Hovione Capital Health Innovation Prize is supported internationally by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT-Health) and has partnerships with several entities, such as Bluecinical (PT), Patentree (PT), SRS Advogados (PT), Impact Science (UK), and ANI / MCTES (PT) through its Bfk Award.

Tags:  Biosensor  Cancer  Graphene  Healthcare  Medical 

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