Nano-sized materials are a common element in many industrial processes mainly due to their unique properties that lead to the production of high technology products. The widespread use of nanotechnology requires the consideration of the environmental and human health risks that may result from the introduction of engineered nanoparticles (eNPs) into the environment. Although toxic effects for certain types of eNP have been recently reported, there is still a lack of knowledge about their possible long-term effects in biological systems.
The project focuses on the understanding of the processes governing the interactions of nanoparticles with biological systems and their associated mechanisms of toxicity, which are essential for eNP safety assessment. Information on the effects of well characterized eNPs will be obtained from literature and other data repositories. Targeted in vivo and in vitro experiments will be also carried out to overcome the limitations of data availability and for model validation. Computational methods will be applied to model both nanostructure-property relationships and the complex and highly non-linear nano-bio interactions and to diminishing the need for animal testing.
The main goal of MODERN is to establish new modeling approaches suitable for relating nanotoxicity with the intrinsic molecular and physicochemical properties of eNPs at environmental exposure levels and to implement safe-by-design nanoparticle design strategies. This implies three specific objectives: (i) To apply computational models for the characterization of the structural and physicochemical properties leading to QNPRs and safe-by-design strategies for eNPs; (ii) to develop in silico models (QNAR) of biological activity of eNPs in the body and in the environment; and (iii) to establish a categorization and hazard ranking protocol for eNPs based on structural similarity principles and in the analysis of their toxicological profiles.
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