New Publication: ‘The 3Rs as a framework to support a 21st century approach for nanosafety assessment’

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Nanomaterials pose numerous advantages over their bulk chemical counterparts, and there has been a considerable rise in the development and production of nanomaterials in the last decade across a vast array of differing human-based applications. Although the potential advantages of these materials are clear, concerns have been raised concerning the health implications of human and environmental exposure. It is therefore crucial that concerted, science-led efforts are made to understand the genuine effects of exposure to nanomaterials and ensure that protection goals are met. There is much ongoing discussion within the field around how best to assess the safety of nanomaterials going forward, particularly considering the large number of nanomaterials that may need to be tested in order to meet regulatory requirements. Traditional animal toxicity tests continue to be the relied upon outside the cosmetics sector to inform nanomaterial safety assessments. Therefore, due to the plethora of nanoforms that may need to be tested, many long-term animal toxicity studies could be required, demanding vast numbers of animals and resources. This approach is not practical, and there further scientific, business, ethical and legislative drivers to re-evaluate the use of animal toxicity tests for this purpose, in particular due to recent geographical bans on the testing of cosmetics in animals. An expert Working Group of European regulators, academics and industry scientists was recently brought together by the UK’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) to discuss i) the opportunities being offered in the short, medium and long term to advance the science underlying nanotoxicology, whilst reducing the reliance on animal models, and ii) the key objectives that must be achieved to realise the ultimate goal of aligning application of the 3Rs with improvements in the science underlying the safety assessment of nanomaterials.

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