NANOBIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOMATERIALS
A knowledge of the English language enough to understand the scientific articles that will be commented during the course is an obvious prerequisite (the course is in English). Although, no other specific prerequisites are required for this course, the student that chooses it should consider its interdisciplinary nature that might confuse and discourage students that do not like making connections between ideas and concepts across different disciplinary boundaries.
The evaluation of the students that did not participate to the in-class activity will be exclusively based on the final exam in which the learning outcomes will be tested. For the attending students, the evaluation will take into consideration also the partial reports and the discussions occurred in class during the lessons.
The exam will be held in the form of oral and provides an assessment of thirty. The minimum score required to pass the exam is 18/30. A clear exposition of the topics, as well as the use of an adequate terminology are necessary to pass the exam.
During the exam, the students will be asked to discuss one or more issues that were addressed during the course. Top marks and, possibly, honors will only be awarded to students who can demonstrate the ability to thoroughly discuss the proposed topics and to work out the connections with the various topics of this course as well as other courses.
The course provides basic knowledge on design and synthesis of biomaterials and on bio-nano interactions, and aims to stimulate students to critical reading of the international literature on the topics discussed in the course.
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the course, at the end, the student will:
- be able to make connections between ideas and concepts across different disciplinary boundaries
- be able to reconcile the different disciplinary facets of the same subject.
- be capable to interpret the recent literature on the interaction of the biological world with nanomaterials approaching it with a critical attitude (no ipse dixit).
- possess an adequate general knowledge of:
the characteristics that define a nanomaterial (NM) and how a NM is produced by man (voluntarily or not) or by nature;
- be able to illustrate the main uses of NMs in biotechnology, medicine, cosmetics, food and feed industry;
- be able to illustrate the existence of concerns on the safety of nanotechnology (nanotoxicology) and the consequent connections with law, economics and ethics.
The laboratory will give the opportunity of understanding the practical aspects involved in the synthesis of nanoparticles.
During the course, the interactions between the "Nano" world and the "Bio" one will be studied. An introduction will allow students to familiarize themselves with the topic and ask a series of questions to which we will try to respond with the help of the available scientific publications.
- We will ask whether nanotechnologies can only be used in specialist contexts, if and how much attention is to be paid to synthetic methods, biodegradability, and to the spread of nanomaterials, what we really mean by "nano" and what is so special in the "nano" world.
- We will talk about the interactions between "nano" and "bio", wondering if nanoparticles enter cells and how they enter, if they cross biological barriers such as the hemato-encephalic or hemato-testicular barriers.
- While stressing the development of nanotoxicology, we will discuss the difficulties encountered in the application of cytotoxicity testing to nanomaterials.
- We will also explore the possibility of using nanoparticles in medicine, a possibility so promising to have coined the term "Nanomedicine".
- We will therefore give some examples of "nanoantibiotics" and "nanoenzymes".
The laboratory will provide a practical experience for the synthesis of an antibacterial and antifungal nanocomposite based on iron oxide and silver nanoparticles
Front lessons to introduce the issues with power point files.
During the course, articles (focused on the course topics) will be suggested that students will read and comment in the classroom.
Student presentations and guided discussions (with a lot of the old blackboard) in the classroom.
When possible, specialists will be invited.