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Establishing nanomaterial grouping/classification strategies according to toxicity and biological effects for supporting risk assessment (NanoToxClass)


This third-party funded project is conducted in the framework of the BfR research programme on nanotechnology.

BMBF grant number: 03XP0008A

Project homepage:

Project description:

A large number of products furnished by nanotechnology are already available in the market. The currently used nanomaterials consist of a limited number of precursor materials. The combination of different precursors as well as variations in size, shape and surface nevertheless gives rise to an almost infinite diversity of materials. Currently each nanoform is subjected to separate experimental testing and risk assessment. Considering the large amount of nanomaterial variants and possible toxicological endpoints, this approach is not feasible and very time and cost intensive. In contrast, grouping and categorisation approaches are available for conventional chemicals, and are also used for regulatory purposes.

NanoToxClass establishes grouping approaches for nanomaterials. One important focus of the project is the systematic generation of new data using modern systems biology approaches, which are used in combination with data from established toxicological endpoints. The project will conduct transcriptome, metabolome and proteome analyses based on samples derived from in vitro and in vivo experiments. Thus, the approach chosen here considers the mode of action of nanomaterials in the development of hazard categories. In addition, by correlating in vitro and in vivo data, this approach facilitates the development of new in vitro testing strategies and supports the adaptation of existing in vitro tests.

Both at the European and international level, the development of categorisation methods for nanomaterials on the basis of their hazard potential for humans is of high relevance and has been the focus of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for considerable time. Insights gained from the NanoTox Class project will thus be communicated to various national and international committees from the outset to verify their regulatory applicability in practice.

ERA-NET SIINN stands for European Research Area Network - Safe Implementation of Innovative Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. This EU programme aims to ensure the safe and fast transfer of European research results in nanoscience and nanotechnology to practical applications.

BfR parts of the project:

The BfR is the coordinator of the project and is involved in all six work packages. The institute provides its expertise in the coordination of major projects, in the risk assessment of chemicals as well as in toxicity testing, including data interpretation.

More detailed information about the project can be found on the project homepage.

Project partners:

  • The Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Germany
  • Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology, Germany
  • University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
  • Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • University of Namur, Belgium
  • StratiCell, Belgium
  • University of Porto, Portugal
  • University of Bucharest, Romania

Associated Project partners:

  • Robert Koch-Institute
  • Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)


Press releases

Date Title Keywords
Assessment of the health effects of industrially used nanomaterials to be made more efficient nanomaterials, research


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