Research shows that a revolutionary Nanomaterials With great potential to address multiple global challenges, human health can be further developed without serious risk.

Artist's impression of a graphene membrane.  University of Manchester

Artist’s impression of a graphene membrane. Image credit: University of Manchester

A certain type of breathing is carefully controlled. Graphene – the world’s thinnest, strongest and most flexible material – has no short-term adverse effects on lung or cardiovascular function, study shows.

The first controlled exposure clinical trial in people was conducted using thin, highly pure graphene oxide – a water-compatible form of the material.

The researchers say more work is needed to determine whether higher amounts of this graphene oxide material or other forms of graphene would have a different effect.

The team is also keen to determine whether prolonged exposure to the material, which is thousands of times thinner than a human hair, could pose additional health risks.

Interest in developing graphene has increased. A material first isolated by scientists at the University of Manchester in 2004 and has been hailed as an ‘amazing’ material. Potential applications include electronics, phone screens, clothing, paint and water purification.

Graphene is being actively explored around the world to aid in targeted therapies against cancer and other health conditions, and also in the form of implantable devices and sensors. Before clinical use, however, all nanomaterials need to be tested for any potential adverse effects.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Manchester recruited 14 volunteers to participate in the study under carefully controlled exposure and medical monitoring conditions.

Volunteers inhaled the material through face masks for two hours while cycling in a purpose-designed mobile exposure chamber brought to Edinburgh from the Netherlands’ National Public Health Institute.

Effects on lung function, blood pressure, blood clotting and blood inflammation were measured – before exposure and at two-hour intervals. A few weeks later, the volunteers were asked to return to the clinic for repeated controlled exposures to different sizes of graphene oxide, or clean air for comparison.

There were no adverse effects on lung function, blood pressure or the majority of other biological parameters.

The researchers saw a slight suggestion that inhaling the material might affect the way blood clots, but they emphasize that the effect was small.

Dr Mark Miller, from the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Cardiovascular Science, said: “Nanomaterials such as graphene hold great promise, but we must ensure they are produced safely before they can be used in our lives. Can be used more widely in life.

“Being able to explore the safety of this unique material in human volunteers is a huge step forward in our understanding of how graphene can affect the body. With careful design we can safely maximize the benefits of nanotechnology.” are

Prof. Kostas Kostarelos, K University of Manchester And the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) in Barcelona said: “This is the first controlled study involving healthy people to show that highly pure forms of graphene oxide – of a specific size distribution and surface characteristics – may be further developed in such a way as to minimize the risk to human health.

“To carry out this research it has taken us more than 10 years to develop the knowledge from a materials and biological science perspective, but also to bring together world-renowned experts to safely conduct such controlled studies. Also from the medical ability to perform. In this field.”

Professor Brian Williams, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The discovery that this type of graphene can be produced safely, with minimal short-term side effects, will lead to new device, therapeutic innovations. Can open doors to development and monitoring techniques.

“We look forward to larger studies over a longer period of time to better understand how we can safely use nanomaterials like graphene to make the leap in delivering life-saving drugs to patients.”

Source: University of Manchester