Nanomaterials (NM) possess tremendous promise to advance consumer, military, and medical applications due to their unique physicochemical properties, such as enhanced surface area, tunable size, modifiable surface chemistry, and particle reactivity. However, these same properties have made NMs a potential health hazard, thus giving rise to the field of nanotoxicology (NT), which has become a prominent player in toxicological advancement and research over the past decade. Initial NT studies were limited by a lack of both available materials and characterization tools. Through advances in material science, enhanced capabilities have been developed that allow for the synthesis of distinctive NMs and the ability to accurately evaluate their characteristics. Taking advantage of these developments, NT has made remarkable progress in evaluating the hazards of NMs and correlating specific properties, such as size, shape, coating, and composition, to observe cytotoxicity. However, even with these numerous advances, there are still a number of constraints plaguing the field of NT. One principal area of concern is the development of procedures that account for new NT facets; including NM behavior in a physiological environment, varied aggregate structure, role of ionic dissolution, and realistic modes of exposure. Another limitation is the need for new and more powerful characterization tools. Recently, the question of dosimetry has become a forefront topic and whether a universal, conceptual standard should be adopted, such as mass, surface area, or particle number. Arriving at a consensus on this issue is critical for the establishment of NM exposure limits and risk assessment metrics, which are significantly lacking. To accomplish accurate risk assessment and regulatory evaluations, NT will have to develop a means to improve the correlation of in vitro data to in vivo predictions, via enhanced cell models, relevant dosages (low vs. high), and realistic exposure scenarios. This CE course will evaluate where NT stands, by highlighting key research successes, identifying challenges facing the field today, and exploring solutions to overcome current limitations.
The Toxicologist. Society of Toxicology 53rd Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, March 23-27, 2014, Phoenix, Arizona