CEDENNA organizes numerous outreach activities, including conferences, talks, competitions, schools, seminars and exhibitions, to present its work to the general community, generating greater interest in science among the youth of our country.
Mauricio Escudey, Manuel Gacitúa and Juan Pablo García Huidobro were the first Chileans, and the only Latin Americans, present at the meeting of the Working Group on Manufactured Nanomaterials that took place in September in France.
“If as a country you are part of the OECD, it is reasonable that you participate alongside the rest of the countries and not only be a recipient of the conclusions others draw,” said Dr. Escudey.
On September 11 and 12 in Paris, France, researchers from the countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) met at the meeting of the Working Group on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) ), which brings together scientists of the highest level around the issue of nanotechnology and nanosecurity.
The group, established by the OECD in 2006 and whose objective is to evaluate potential risks in the development of nanomaterials, for the first time was attended by Chilean representatives: Mauricio Escudey, Manuel Gacitúa and Juan Pablo García Huidobro, who are members of the Center for the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Cedenna, installed at the University of Santiago de Chile.
The researchers were summoned by the Chilean Mission to the OECD and attended as delegates of the country, being the only representatives of Latin America in this relevant instance of analysis and scientific discussion.
In this regard, Dr. Mauricio Escudey explained that the call arose based on the trajectory and prestige of Cedenna.
“A couple of years ago, in Cedenna we considered that nanosecurity was a topic of great importance and we set out to be a reference in this area. One of our objectives was to be consultants and participants for the State, at the level of decision-making regarding development policy in this area. In that context, it is highly significant for us to have been considered to participate in this meeting, which allow us to enter a different circle, where world policies are defined, ”said Escudey.
Manuel Gacitúa, said that participation in the meeting, “was a super important opportunity, because it allowed us to know the vision of the countries that are leading these issues.” The researcher exemplified that it is surprising how in vitro culture models can replace experimentation in biological models with live animals.
Databases and in vitro cultures
The meeting of the OECD Working Group on Manufactured Nanomaterials contemplated two days of analysis and technical discussion. The first of these focused on a project led by Canadian researchers, which consisted of an online review tool of all available toxicological databases, to try to predict the toxicity of nanomaterials and thus avoid repeating biological tests that are currently being used. They do with animals.
“There is a worldwide tendency to stop experimenting with animals and they are also very expensive processes. The idea of the project presented is to get more out of everything that has already been done and avoid new experiments, ”explains Gacitúa.
During the second day, meanwhile, a project led by English researchers was addressed: the development of cell tissue models that allow replacing animal tests with in vitro assays.
“These researchers are developing models of cellular tissues, liver and stomach lungs, which are the three most important routes of entry or accumulation of nanoparticles in the body, and try to translate these results to see if they can be extrapolated to humans ”, Details Dr. Gacitúa.
“The reasoning of these researchers – complements Dr. Escudey – is to use, as much as possible, the existing information; to look for how to complement that information with another one that is more specific for nano materials and that all those tests, if possible, are not done with living beings, but through computational, physical, chemical or biological models.
“This is just the beginning”
Upon returning from the international meeting, the Cedenna researchers expressed their satisfaction for having participated in this instance and shared some reflections.
“If as a country you are part of the OECD, it is reasonable that you participate on a par with the rest of the countries and not only be a recipient of the conclusions that others draw,” said Mauricio Escudey.
At the same time, the researchers agree that the field of nanosecurity is still to be explored and that, both in Cedenna, and at the country level, we must continue to commit ourselves to this central challenge for the 21st century. “This is just the beginning,” he adds..