INL iCare
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INL and the prevention of nanomaterial toxicity

Health, Agri-food and Bioeconomy

Airborne nanomaterials can have a major negative impact on our health. Aware of the danger of this tiny matter, the international advanced research centre INL, based in Portugal, is leading the iCare project in a consortium with ten other European and international partners.

This initiative, funded by the Horizon Europe programme, aims to develop a set of advanced imaging technologies to assess the physio-chemical properties of nanomaterials. The main objective will be to characterise and predict the impact of nanomaterials on health, specifically on the nervous system, to prevent their toxicity.

“Our idea is to generate a battery of evaluations that allow us to know the neurotoxic potential of a material. Nanomaterials such as carbon or graphene are present in many places: in food additives, in cosmetics, in the textures of clothing… There is evidence that some nanomaterials can have harmful effects on the organs they encounter, such as the skin, or with other more distant organs such as the heart, the nervous system, or the digestive tract,” explains Ernesto Alfaro-Moreno, INL researcher and coordinator of iCare.

iCare project activities

During the 48 months of the iCare project, the consortium will develop different activities:

  • Toxicological testing protocols and addressing current gaps in nanotoxicology. – Development of tools and procedures to bridge the gap between in vitro and in vivo testing.
  • New super-resolution and high-resolution imaging procedures.
  • Efficiency in materials and product development.
  • Provision of reliable data and improved data reporting.
  • Development of standardised and harmonised test methods that can be used in regulatory frameworks.

In this project Zabala Innovation has helped in the preparation of the proposal and in the management of the consortium. “The professionals at Zabala Innovation helped us in many areas: identifying potential collaborators, bureaucratic procedures, managing the consortium, drafting and fine-tuning the proposal… It was magnificent,” explains Ernesto Alfaro-Moreno.

INL and its partners

The ten partners accompanying INL in this major project come from fields as diverse as industry, academia and SMEs, and work in areas such as toxicology, advanced materials, nanotechnology, and advanced imaging.

They are the University of Sydney, Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA), Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Temas Solutions GMBH, Gaiker – Centro Tecnológico, Optics11 BV, Avanzare Innovación Tecnológica SL, Versarien PLC, Advanced Material Development Limited and the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

In this way, the eleven partners will advance together in the study of nanosafety and the prevention of harmful effects that certain nanomaterials can cause to our health.


Ernesto Alfaro-Moreno

“Zabala Innovation helps scientists to put very complex projects in order”

Ernesto Alfaro-Moreno

iCare project coordinator

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