World-renowned experts in nanomaterial synthesis and characterization worked side-by-side with their counterparts in toxicology and environmental impacts to develop a prioritized agenda for predicting nanomaterials' biological and environmental impacts.
The breadth of expertise at these workshops was astonishing. But bringing together diverse experts to work on shared challenges is standard operating procedure for ICON.
A sampling of the findings of the 79-page report includes:
- Tools and models must be developed that can describe the dynamic nature of nanomaterials throughout their lifestyle.
- A set of screening tools is needed to correlate the functional properties of nanomaterials with their potential for biological interaction.
- Exposure assessment studies are needed to lead to predictions about physicochemical properties and their implications for net dose.
- Quantitative models are needed to describe how the physicochemical properties of nanoparticles control the nature and extent of biomolecular interactions at their surface.
- Dose and dose rate may need to be validated independently for nanomaterials.
- Specific research designed to develop better biomarkers, or sets of biomarkers, is essential to address the vast diversity of nanoparticle types and to develop strong correlative models for predicting in vivo data based on in vitro results.
Here's what some people are saying about the report:
Professor Vicki Colvin, Executive Director, ICON:
"The systematic approach taken in these workshops will provide a solid foundation for further research, enable risk management and guide commercial development."
Dr. Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and member of ICON's Executive Committee:
"The broad participation in these workshops represents the kind of decision-making process that is essential to determining how nanotechnology can be used safely."
Dr. Sally Tinkle, Senior Science Advisor to the Acting Director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health:
"Independent efforts such as this one add tremendous value to the work we’re doing at the governmental level. The ICON report provides a detailed roadmap for addressing a specific grand challenge and can inform the federal strategy."
Dr. Gérard Rivière, President of the European Committee for Standardization and Research:
"These workshops demonstrated an impressive commitment to international cooperation and harmonization, especially considering the collective necessity to develop and use standardized materials and reference methods operational at the nanoscale. Such broad engagement will be vital to addressing nanotechnology’s impacts in the future."
Intel: Paolo Gargini, Intel Fellow and Director of Technology Strategy: (pdf)
"Intel supports the broad communication of this report to enable prioritization of international research nanotechnology. While companies and countries will compete in the commercialization of nanotech in the area of EHS, cooperative and collaborative research should be the cornerstone."
There are many outstanding challenges and a healthy skepticism about the value of predictive modeling, so let's hear it:
What do you think are the most pressing challenges for nanotechnology?