On May 16 and 17, 2023, the eleven partners within the AURORA project met for their second-year consortium meeting. Twenty-one partners came to the Swiss Alps while others joined online. Approaching the halfway point of the project, the attendees updated each other on their work within AURORA over the last year. The continuous rainy weather created an even more constructive working atmosphere with refreshing breaks to enjoy the mountain views.
One after the other, representatives of the six work packages (WP) presented their progress, recent challenges, potential solutions, and they shared the results of their research. The scientists involved in the detection and characterization of micro- and nanoplastics (MNP) have produced and characterized fluorescent particles, built a spectroscopic database, and worked on protocols for placenta digestion and the high-throughout analysis of MNPs in human tissue, amongst others. In the area of toxicological and health effects of MNP exposure in early life, the involved researchers tested a wide variety of MNP polymer types and concentrations in bioassays for their potential impacts on cell viability, membrane integrity, oxidative stress, endocrine activities, inflammation, and gene expression. Challenges in the collection and transfer of placenta and cord blood samples were also discussed as well as progress made in developing a framework for risk assessment of MNP exposure to early life health.
Within the last year, outcomes of the AURORA project were presented at national and international conferences and published as two reviews. One peer-reviewed article was published on available human placenta models, and another article was released on micro-spectroscopic techniques to analyze nanoplastics. Many more publications are planned for the coming months, which will make the experimental data generated over the last two years available to a broader audience. The AURORA website will provide future updates on these publications as soon as they are available.
Some new experts have joined the AURORA project team over the past year. You can learn more about all the people involved on the team page as well as follow the latest updates on the project’s research via the news page and through the project’s LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. The next AURORA consortium meeting is planned to take place in Fall 2023 in virtual form, followed by a next in-person consortium meeting in March 2024.