Published: 2018-11-05 15:07 | Updated: 2018-11-06 14:46

IMM publishes a comprehensive report on nanotoxicology

Nanotechnology harnesses the unique properties of materials at the nanoscale. It is generally believed that nano-enabled technologies will have a pervasive impact on society. However, in light of the increasing production and use of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), it is an essential priority to address the safety of this expanding class of materials for human health. Thus, while significant investments in nanosafety research have been made in recent years, the knowledge regarding interactions of ENMs with living systems needs to be translated into a risk management framework to support safe and sustainable development of existing and emerging nanotechnologies. Researchers at IMM have compiled a comprehensive report on the state-of-the-art of nanotoxicology along with an outlook with regards to future research needs. The report is available here.

The Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM), a department at Karolinska Institutet, is an interdisciplinary research organization in the field of environmental medicine. At IMM, research is conducted in toxicology, environmental medicine, and epidemiology. Additionally, IMM provides environmental risk assessments to governmental agencies. IMM has played an important role in the field of nanotoxicology in the past decade, with participation in numerous EU-funded projects, including FP7-NANOREG, as well as national projects, eg., MISTRA Environmental Nanosafety.

The present IMM report on the state-of-the-art of nanotoxicology provides an overview of each of the fundamental aspects of nanosafety including material characterization, exposure assessment, hazard assessment, and risk assessment. The report provides a detailed evaluation of the potential hazards posed by ENMs including effects on key organ systems such as the pulmonary system, cardiovascular system, skin, gastro-intestinal system, immune system, and central nervous system, and discusses developmental and reproductive effects as well as carcinogenic properties of ENMs. Furthermore, the report discusses the implementation of advanced in vitro and in silico approaches to evaluate ENMs including systems toxicology methods. The report concludes with a set of future research challenges organized under the four main headings, material characterization, exposure assessment, hazard assessment, and risk assessment. The overall conclusion is that while considerable progress has been made in nanotoxicology, further concerted efforts are required both at the national and international level to promote safe handling of ENMs.