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The rise of nanotoxicology: A successful collaboration between engineering and biology

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469, USA

The field of nanotechnology has grown exponentially in the last decade, due to increasing capabilities in material science which allows for the precise and reproducible synthesis of nanomaterials (NMs). However, the unique physicochemical properties of NMs that make them attractive for nanotechnological applications also introduce serious health and safety concerns; thus giving rise to the field of nanotoxicology. Initial efforts focused on evaluating the toxic potential of NMs, however, it became clear that due to their distinctive characteristics it was necessary to design and develop new assessment metrics. Through a prolific collaboration, engineering practices and principles were applied to nanotoxicology in order to accurately evaluate NM behavior, characterize the nano-cellular interface, and measure biological responses within a cellular environment. This review discusses three major areas in which the field of nanotoxicology progressed as a result of a strong engineering-biology partnership: 1) the establishment of standardized characterization tools and techniques, 2) the examination of NM dosimetry and the development of mathematical, predictive models, and 3) the generation of physiologically relevant exposure systems that incorporate fluid dynamics and high-throughput mechanisms. The goal of this review is to highlight the multidisciplinary efforts behind the successes of nanotoxicology and celebrate the partnerships that have emerged from this research field.
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