DNA DAMAGE AND THE SAFETY OF NANOMATERIALS
Professor Doak’s work looks at how we can create regulatory tests and tools for nanotechnology as they proliferate in our societies. The tests she and her team have been developing are creating better and more reliable ways of testing products with the potential to make animal testing redundant. ‘This research is underpinned by international inter-disciplinary collaboration, to provide innovative solutions supporting the sustainable development of nanotechnology’. As a result of the dedicated research conducted by Professor Doak and her team, their improved safety testing tools are now being utilised in international nano-regulatory frameworks. Various international policy makers and regulators have already adapted DNA damage testing to make it appropriate for evaluating nanomaterials. These include the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
How do we assess the safety of nanomaterials ? DNA damage in particular is a concern as it can lead to cancer development and so, assessing the DNA damaging capacity of a substance we are exposed to is a vital aspect of safety assessment. Although regulatory safety tests for chemicals are well defined, they are not always appropriate for nanomaterials. This has been a substantial barrier to nanotechnology innovation worldwide. Shareen Doak is professor of Genotoxicology and Cancer and a leading figure in the field of nanotoxicology globally. She is a UK and EUROTOX Registered Toxicologist, an invited Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) and an elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW). Her research focuses on the genotoxic profiles of engineered nanomaterials, the mechanisms underlying their DNA damaging potential and subsequent consequences upon human health. She is co-lead of the In Vitro Toxicology Group whose research has been pivotal in developing standardised safety tests to facilitate nanomaterial risk assessment for human health. Nanotechnology promises significant societal and economic benefits. Cutting-edge science is therefore pivotal to ensure the translation of nanotechnology into safe applications, which in turn will support sustainable development opportunities and industrial growth.
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