No time to lose—high throughput screening to assess nanomaterial safety
Nanomaterials hold great promise for medical, technological and economical benefits. Knowledge concerning the toxicological properties of these novel materials is typically lacking. At the same time, it is becoming evident that some nanomaterials could have a toxic potential in humans and the environment. Animal based systems lack the needed capacity to cope with the abundance of novel nanomaterials being produced, and thus we have to employ in vitro methods with high throughput to manage the rush logistically and use high content readouts wherever needed in order to gain more depth of information. Towards this end, high throughput screening (HTS) and high content screening (HCS) approaches can be used to speed up the safety analysis on a scale that commensurate with the rate of expansion of new materials and new properties. The insights gained from HTS/HCS should aid in our understanding of the tenets of nanomaterial hazard at biological level as well as assist the development of safe-by-design approaches. This review aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to the HTS/HCS methodology employed for safety assessment of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), including data analysis and prediction of potentially hazardous material properties. Given the current pace of nanomaterial development, HTS/HCS is a potentially effective means of keeping up with the rapid progress in this field—we have literally no time to lose.