Name of the infrastructure: SMU-TA
Location (town, country): Bratislava, Slovakia
Web site address: www.szu.sk
Legal name of organisation operating the infrastructure: Slovenská zdravotnícka univerzita v Bratislave
Location of organisation: Bratislava, Slovakia
Description of the Infrastructure
MATERIALS AND EXPERTISE
The key components of the Slovak Medical University (SMU) offer are accredited experimental animal house (including GMO facility and operation room for experimental animals) with experience of testing of nanoparticles and nanofibres, toxicological facilities with the technical and scientific support of other core facilities. Unique accumulation of expertise is available through long-term experienced specialists: chemists, biochemists, toxicologists, geneticists, environmental health specialists, immunologists, molecular biologists, and clinicians, specializing in different aspects of the mechanisms of nanoparticles and fibres interactions with living systems.
SMU offers Users and opportunity to work with high-quality researchers (10 professor, 65 PhDs), members of different international organizations, e.g.: EUROTOX, MEGAT (Middle European Society for Alternative Methods to Animal Testing), IUIS, EAACI, European Environmental Mutagen Society, RECOOP HST (Regional Cooperation for Health, Science and Technology). SMU hosts/hosted more than 35 PhD students, including international students.
Consistent care for quality, comparability and international acceptability of experimental results at SMU is ensured via accreditation of research activities in accordance with international principles established by ISO/IEC Standards. Laboratories of SMU obtained certificates on conformity with Good Laboratory Practice, Good Manufacturing Practice, Pharmaceutical Testing, issued by the Slovak National Accreditation Service.
SUPPORTING FACILITIES AND SERVICES:
SMU will offer access to the experimental animal house and research laboratories equipped with recent instruments to component:
Particle exposure assessment
The accredited experimental animal house built in 1992 underwent reconstruction in 2005. The required microenvironment in animal rooms is maintained via sensors-regulated air-condition. The conventional facility is accredited for housing laboratory mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, pigs/chicken (alternative). Specific pathogen free facility is designed for laboratory mice and rats. Ichthyological laboratory is included. The animal operation room is equipped with devices for small animal surgery - hepatectomy, nephrectomy, ovariectomy and vessel occlusion). Moreover, blood pressure measurement and 4-channel treadmill for physical exercise in rodents is available. The Slovak National Accreditation Service issued a Certificate the Good Laboratory Practice in 1995. The animal house was approved by the State Veterinary Administration for housing of experimental animals according to the State Law No. 289/2003.
In relation to the project, following laboratory equipment is offered to Users:
Haematological analyzer: blood counts (humans, rodents); Biochemical analyzer (dry chemistry methods): standard blood and urine biochemistry (humans, animals); Liquid scintillation counter: is an efficient and practical mean of quantifying beta ionizing radiation in samples; Flow cytometer – can provide measurement of wide range of surface molecules in immunology and cell biology methods including immunophenotyping analysis of human and animal leukocytes, determination of cell adhesion molecules, cell apoptosis, immune function assay etc.; GC/ HPLC- ICP-MS is used for determination of metal speciation and GFAAS for determination of total contents of metals; UV/VIS microplate spectrophotometer: ELISA and other methods for measurement of proteins, antibodies, soluble adhesion molecules, cytokines in blood and cell culture supernatants etc.; Imaging & Spectroscopy by in vivo magnetic resonance is available in cooperation with Slovak Technical University, Bratislava.
Research supported by the infrastructure
Research at SMU is organized into a framework with 4 specific foci: 1. Health of children, pre-/peri-natal care, health-care for mother and child; 2. Health of ageing population; 3. Chronic degenerative diseases; 4. Transmissible diseases (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, enteroviral diseases, salmonelosis, prion diseases, etc.); Priority domains cover: 1. The effects of environmental factors (physical, chemical, biological, social and life style) on human health. 2. Nutrition and health. 3. Non-clinical biomedical research (education and health, management of health care, ethical aspects, sociology, etc.). 4. Mental health. More specifically, research on nanosafety, covers all foci, and priority domain 1 and 2, and aims to develop understanding of the potential for toxicity of, in the first line, nanomaterials aimed particularly for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes, and those coming into any kind of contact with human body during industrial processing. In relation to proposed project, research at SMU is focused on following research topics related to component:
Particle exposure assessment
- in vitro methods for the reduction, refinement and / or replacement of animal testing (cell cultures)
- in vivo methods (animal models) of testing of potential health effects (safety/toxicity) of nanoparticles, particulate matter, and chemicals, including assessment of immunotoxicity and/or allergenicity
- methods for assessing of combined exposures
- indoor air exposures and health effects
- long-term effects of ambient air pollution
- environmental pollutants and development of allergy
- interactions between environmental, host and genetic factors
The consortium has long-term experience in vivo/in vitro testing strategies used for chemicals and materials including nanomaterials. Recent research has been focused on mechanisms of toxicity of asbestos substitute mineral fibres. The study of the effects of fibre substitutes was in line with documents of the European Commission, World Health Organization, International Labour Office, and International Agency for Research. Using intratracheal instillation and inhalation exposure (nose-only), we studied the effects of precisely defined respirable fibres (+ /-cigarette smoke in animal experiments) on the onset of pathological processes (immunotoxicity, cytotoxicity, fibrogenicity, carcinogenicity in acute, subchronic and chronic models) based on cellular or humoral defence response. Moreover, biochemical parameters, reactive oxygen radical production, oxidation enzymes, antioxidants genotoxicity and clastogenicity parameters and histological changes have been studied.
Services currently on offer and scientific highlights
SMU offers a dynamic interdisciplinary research environment, the particular strength of which is the dedicated and funded sTAf of scientists from various disciplines, and the availability of full technical support when accessing analytical equipment. Equipment offered is specified in detail in Appendix 2 of Part B of the DoW. Besides the testing of toxicity of nanoparticles, SMU can offer an opportunity for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows to meet and work with distinguished top-scientists, potential for establishment of long term collaboration with leading European centres, dissemination of new methods, techniques and knowledge, joint research initiatives, projects applications and publications.