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Swansea University science lab with students in white lab coats and lecturer in blue lab coat. Students working with test tubes and pippetts

DNA damage and the safety of nanomaterials

The Challenge
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.

The Method
Professor Shareen Doak and her team have been developing tailored safety testing methods for nanomaterials and new, advanced non-animal tissue models. These improved safety testing tools are now being utilised in international nano-regulatory frameworks. 

Shareek Doak working in a lab wearing a white lab coat

The Impact
The research conducted by Swansea University’s In Vitro Toxicology Group has been pivotal in developing standardised safety tests to facilitate nanomaterial risk assessment for human health.

Our research has been utilized in numerous international regulatory risk assessment policy documents world-wide to adapt the DNA damage testing methodology so that it is appropriate for evaluating nanomaterials, including: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), US-Canada Regulatory Co-Operation Council (RCC), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority.

This has protected the nanotechnology industry by producing a more accurate safety assessment process.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Swansea University Research Themes