A strategy for grouping of nanomaterials based on key physico-chemical descriptors as a basis for safer-by-design NMs

Iseult Lynch, Carsten Weiss, Eugenia Valsami-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is an urgent need to establish a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of nanomaterial (NM) interaction with living systems and the environment, in order for regulation of NMs to keep pace with their increasing industrial application. Identification of critical properties (physicochemical descriptors) that confer the ability to induce harm in biological systems is crucial, enabling both prediction of impacts from related NMs (via quantitative nanostructure-activity relationships (QNARs) and read-across approaches) and development of strategies to ensure these features are avoided or minimised in NM production in the future ("safety by design"). A number of challenges to successful implementation of such a strategy exist, including: (i) the lack of widely available systematically varied libraries of NMs to enable generation of sufficiently robust datasets for development and validation of QNARs; (ii) the fact that many physicochemical properties of pristine NMs are inter-related and thus cannot be varied systematically in isolation from others (e.g. increasing surface charge may impact on hydrophobicity, or changing the shape of a NM may introduce defects or alter the atomic configuration of the surface); and (iii) the effect of ageing, transformation and biomolecule coating of NMs under environmental or biological conditions. A novel approach to identify interlinked physicochemical properties, and on this basis identify overarching descriptors (axes or principle components) which can be used to correlate with toxicity is proposed. An example of the approach is provided, using three principle components which we suggest can be utilised to fully describe each NM, these being the intrinsic (inherent) properties of the NM, composition (which we propose as a separate parameter) and extrinsic properties (interaction with media, molecular coronas etc.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-270
Number of pages5
JournalNano Today
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Classification
  • NMs
  • Nanoparticle libraries
  • Nanoregulation
  • Nanosafety
  • Physicochemical descriptors
  • QNARs
  • Read-across

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