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Posted: May 11, 2009
Scottish Research Institute to lead multi-million Euro project to promote end-user confidence in safety of nanotechnologies
(Nanowerk News) The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) has announced the launch of ENPRA - a major new European Framework 7 project to develop and implement a novel integrated approach for engineered nanoparticle (ENP) risk assessment.
With an estimated economic impact of $292 billion by 2010 across industrial, consumer and medical products, nanotechnology is already one of the key industries within Europe and worldwide. Key to its long term growth and sustainability is establishing end-user confidence that the technologies developed are safe. ENPRA (Engineered NanoParticle Risk Assessment) aims to support long term growth and sustainability of nanotechnologies by expanding the classic exposure-dose-response paradigm of risk assessment, to develop an effective approach for the assessment and management of potential health risks from exposure to engineered nanoparticles.
The 3 ½ year IOM-led project, worth €3.7 million, harnesses the knowledge and capabilities of 15 European and 6 US partners including three US Federal Agencies: EPA, NIOSH and NIH-NIEHS. Under the coordination of Dr Lang Tran, IOM’s Director of Computational Toxicology, ENPRA will utilise the latest advances within in vitro, in vivo and in silico approaches to nanotechnology environment, health & safety (EHS) research to realise its aims.
“ENPRA also has a strong British element, with the participation of three UK research organisations, the IOM, Edinburgh Napier and Edinburgh Universities,” said Dr Tran. “In addition, the in vitro and in silico approaches to be developed within ENPRA will also help to reduce the need for animal experimentation in nanotoxicology” he added.
Harnessing the latest advances in toxicology to nanotechnology EH&S issues, the fundamentally novel rationale of ENPRA goes beyond traditional toxicity assessment of ENP and seeks to:
identify the critical ENP physico-chemical characteristics responsible for the observed toxicity;
investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the observed association;
develop systems, verifiable with in vivo experiments, which could be used as potential high throughput alternative toxicity tests;
use a Structure-Activity method to facilitate such identification and use this to predict the hazard of new materials;
extrapolate the results from in vitro to in vivo and to other relevant occupational or consumer situations;
incorporate all possible data as weight-of-evidence for a risk assessment of ENP
“Our ability to disseminate the results of ENPRA is strengthened considerably by our pre-existing management of SAFENANO, one of the world’s key information portals on nanotechnology health and safety issues” Dr Tran commented.
ENPRA represents the latest in 9 EU FP7 projects that the institute is leading or partnered within. Its launch meeting will take place this week at the University of Paris VII Diderot, with an official evening reception being held at the British Embassy in Paris on Thursday 14th May.