Engineered nanomaterials (ENs) present tremendous opportunities for industrial growth and development, and hold great promise for the enrichment of the lives of citizens, in medicine, electronics, and numerous other areas. However, there are considerable gaps in our knowledge concerning the potential hazardous effects of ENs on human health and the environment. Our EU-US partnership is committed to filling these knowledge gaps through a comprehensive assessment of ENs, with particular focus on effects on the immune system.
The immune system is designed to respond to pathogens and foreign particles, and a core concept underpinning the current project is that the recognition versus non-recognition of ENs by immune-competent cells will determine the distribution as well as the toxicological potential of these materials. Our multidisciplinary consortium will focus on the procurement, synthesis and detailed physico-chemical characterization of representative categories of ENs, and the monitoring of potential hazardous effects using an array of in vitro and in vivo systems, as well as transcriptomic and oxidative lipidomic testing to determine specific nanotoxic profiles (signatures) of these materials. The final and integrative component of our research project is risk assessment of potential adverse effects of ENs on human health, and the dissemination of our findings.
Through our comprehensive approach, which combines analytical procedures from many different disciplines and leading experts from several national institutes devoted to occupational and environmental safety, we aim to establish a panel of read-out systems for the prediction of the toxic potential of existing and emerging ENs, thus enabling a continuous and sustainable growth of the nanotechnologies. Overall, the results generated through this international program will contribute to the understanding and mitigation of possible adverse effects of nanomaterials.