More ethical and economic model for nanoparticle toxicological studies

This study offers a more ethical and economic alternative to mice models in the

This study offers a more ethical and economic alternative to mice models in the nanoparticle toxicity tests.



A small caterpillar, considered a plague by all beekeepers, has proved to be a great promise for biomedical research. The larvae of the Galleria mellonella species, known for the damage they cause to beehives, had been object of interest in scientific research for the last decades, specially for their utility as invertebrate models in the study of mechanisms of diseases. Now, in an article published in the science journal Chemosphere , G. mellonella larvae have been used as models to test the toxicology in nanoparticles.

This study is coordinated by experts Eduard Torrents and José Antonio del Río, lecturers at the Faculty of Biology of the UB, and heads, respectively, of the research groups of IBEC Bacterial Infections: Antimicrobial Therapies, and Molecular and Cellular Neurobiotechnology.

Other participants in this research study are the first author of the article, Laura Moya-Andérico, and Maria del Mar Cendra, members of the group led by lecturer Torrents, as well as Miriam Segura Feliu and Vanessa Gil, from the group led by Professor José Antonio del Rio, also member of the Institute of Neurosciences of the UB (UBNeuro) and the Biomedical Research Centre in Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIBERNED). The project also counted on the collaboration of the expert Marija Vukomanovic, from the Jozef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

What are nanoparticles?

A nanoparticle is a matter particle with less than a hundred nanometres of diameter. In another perspective, the dot at the end of this sentence is about a million nanometres wide. Silver, gold, and selenium nanoparticles -the tested substances in this studyare three types of nanoparticle that will be widely used in many industrial and biomedical fields.

The toxicity of nanoparticles is first tested in vitro in cell lines and then in vivo in mice, a practice which is expensive and ethically polemic. The authors of this study suggest that researchers use G. mellonella larvae, also known as silkworms, as a bridge between both models. “This study offers a more ethical and economic alternative to mice models in the nanoparticle toxicity tests’, concludes researcher Eduard Torrents.


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