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International nanobiotechnology project launch at the University of Kent


An international project in nanobiotechnology is being launched at the University of Kent 30-31 January 2005. The project’s primary objectives are the establishment and maintenance of a European centre of excellence in the area and it is funded for five-years in the first instance.

Novel and Improved Nanomaterials, Chemistries and Apparatus for Nano-Biotechnology (NACBO) is co-ordinated by the University of Kent and is funded with a total of 15.6m Euro, of which 8m Euro is granted from the European Union, 0.5m from China and 7.1m from European industry.

Nanotechnology is still being explored by researchers as a science and has been described as an ‘enabling technology’ rather than a technology in its own right. Ian Bruce, Professor of Nanobiotechnology at the University of Kent, is one of many European researchers for whom it is essential that Europe is recognised for its scientific skills and excellence in this area as well as providing competition and a direct challenge to the US, which currently dominates the development of this emerging science.

NACBO brings together key European industries and governmental agencies with world class research institutes. Its objectives are broad but focused and include the creation of novel drug treatments using structured nanocomposite particles coated or loaded with useful substances to improved medical diagnostic systems, materials and methodologies for use in forensic science, public health and welfare. It also includes activities directly related to the toxicological and safety issues surrounding nanomaterials the results of which will be available to the world through the project’s website.

Industries taking part are Philips (Aachen, Germany), Degussa (Hamburg, Germany), Genetix (New Milton, UK) and Savyon (Ashdod, Israel) together with the Health Protection Agency (UK), Criminalpol (I) and the Istituto Superiore per la Sanita (I). Kent is the only UK university taking part in this project. The others are the University of Urbino (I); East China University of Science and Technology (Shanghai, PRC); Hebrew University at Jerusalem (Israel) ; Shemaykin Ovchinikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (Moscow, Russia) and Bar Ilan University (Tel Aviv, Israel).

According to Professor Bruce, such collaboration is a principal strength of the project. ‘Collaboration on this scale is relatively unknown in America, whereas in Europe the benefits are widely acknowledged.’

Karen Baxter | alfa
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