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An introduction to the toxicology of nanomaterials, in the frame of a safe by design objective

The increasing use of nanomaterials poses the problem of their possible adverse effects toward living organisms, which can be described as their toxicology (toward humans and mammals in general) and their ecotoxicology (toward non mammalian organisms). Within the EU, the REACH regulatory frame will impose to perform regulatory toxicological and ecotoxicological tests prior to marketing nanomaterials (as for any other chemicals). While mandatory, these regulatory tests are not free of drawbacks. They are long, expensive, and only provide limited answers. As such, they cannot be used in a safe by design approach, for which fast tests are required.
Thus, there is room for improvement in the field of the in vitro tests, which provide the speed and sensitivity required for at least preliminary testing of new nanomaterials, enabling to trigger a safe by design approach for the development of new nanomaterials.
In this general frame, the lecture will first focus on how living organisms are organized and work, in order to explain the various interactions that they can have with nanomaterials. The in vitro tests will then be presented, with special focus on high content (omics) analyses and on the specific problems of effects persistence (often encountered with mineral nanomaterials) and dose-rate effects. This will introduce how these tests pave the way for a safe by design approach in the development of nanomaterials.

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Thierry Rabilloud