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Human IMMune profiling of Graphene NanoRibbons

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IMM-GNRs (Human IMMune profiling of Graphene NanoRibbons)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

To promote the safe use of innovative graphene-based nanomaterials, the study of their interactions with blood immune cells is of fundamental importance for any translational medicine application, especially for procedures requiring intravenous injection.
However, despite graphene-based materials attracted great interest for biomedical applications, the data present in the literature had scarcely addressed their impact on the complex orchestra of immune cells.

Therefore, the ambitious purpose of the present research was to depict a comprehensive and quantitative picture of the immune activity of graphene nanoribbons, finite sized graphene materials with confined widths, showing fascinating perspectives in healthcare.
Graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) are finite sized graphene materials with confined widths. In contrast to other carbon nanomaterials such as graphene oxide, GNRs via the bottom-up organic synthesis (developed by the supervisor Prof. X.Feng) provided key novel aspects: i) the perfect control of structure at the atomic level ensuring higher reproducibility; ii) the conjugation with polar PEG-side chains, allowing very stable dispersion in water; iii) the future tailoring with different molecules and drugs, opening fascinating perspectives in healthcare. All these advantages compared to other nanomaterials make them “gold” carbon tools for their development in a medical direction.
In particular, the aim of the study was to investigate the blood immune cell interaction with GNRs in relation to their structural properties. Through the project, we developed a class of graphene nanoribbons and depicted their interaction with immune cells. Along with science, training in lecturing, student supervision, funding application, project management, and workshop/conference organization significantly improved the career growth of the fellow, thus giving her the necessary tools to develop a successful and independent career.
• the project led to one paper under revision and two in preparation which will be submitted soon to high impact factor journals. During the project period, all the work has been done on the side of TUD.
• The fellow has been fully trained as an independent researcher, and she got a professorship at the University of Padua, one of the top Universities in Italy.

1) The design and synthesize a wide variety of highly stable and water-soluble GNRs
2) the quantitative deep immune phenotyping by several techniques including single cell mass cytometry and lipidomics
3) The correlation of immune phenotype and physicochemical properties


1) She was a speaker with a talk concerning “Carbon Nanomaterials and Graphene Interactions with immune cells: a box of opportunities” at the CDT Conference on Graphene and 2D Materials (5th July 2018 Manchester, UK).

2) She had a talk entitled “Carbon Nanomaterials and the immune cells: a box of opportunities” at the Frontiers on Immunology Workshop (10th July 2018, Milan, Italy).

3) She attended the Symposium on Advanced Materials 30th Anniversary – Advanced Carbon & 2D Materials” (16th July, 2018, Dresden, Germany).

4) She had a talk at the “Erfahrungsaustausch für Wissenschaftlerinnen zu ERC und Marie-Skłodowska-Curie-Maßnahmen” (12nd November 2018, TU Dresden).

5) She received an invitation to visit the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) and hold a seminar concerning “Future applications for graphene: the painting of immune cells” (14th February 2019, Genoa, Italy).

6) She attended the Graphene Week 2019 conference (25th September 2019, Helsinki, Finland), where was a speaker with a talk concerning “Immune dysregulation and bone loss during long-term space travels: how can graphene help?”. Within this talk, she also presented part of the results obtained during the MSCA fellow in Xinliang Feng laboratory.
(1) The fellow had broadened his scientific skills spanning from chemistry to physics, materials science and immunology. Together will the scientific skills, experience in professional skills (students’ supervision, lecturing and funding application) and complementary skills (meeting/seminar/workshop/conference organization, and public engagement) greatly improved his independence and leadership. Different collaborations involved in the project significantly expanded his network both nationally and transnationally.

(2) The project developed a robust immune-profiling approach of 2D materials for the scientific community. In the meantime, the published works, collaboration, lectures, and presentations on conferences greatly helped to build up the fellow’s reputation.

(3) Based on the fellow’s previous experience and gained competence in IMM-GNRs, the fellow obtained a professorship at the University of Padua, one of the top Universities in Italy.
IMM GNRs summarized image