Nanostandardization in Action: Implementing Standardization Processes in a Multidisciplinary Nanoparticle-Based Research and Development Project
Nanomaterials have attracted much interest in the medical field and related applications as their distinct properties in the nanorange enable new and improved diagnosis and therapies. Owing to these properties and their potential interactions with the human body and the environment, the impact of nanomaterials on humans and their potential toxicity have been regarded a very significant issue. Consequently, nanomaterials are the subject of a wide range of cutting-edge research efforts in the medical and related fields to thoroughly probe their potential beneficial utilizations and their more negative effects. We posit that the lack of standardization in the field is a serious shortcoming as it has led to the establishment of methods and results that do not ensure sufficient consistency and thus in our view can possibly result in research outputs that are not as robust as they should be. The main aim of this article is to present how NanoDiaRA, a large FP7 European multidisciplinary project that seeks to investigate and develop nanotechnology-based diagnostic systems, has developed and implemented robust, standardized methods to support research practices involving the engineering and manipulation of nanomaterials. First, to contextualize this research, an overview of the measures defined by different regulatory bodies concerning nanosafety is presented. Although these authorities have been very active in the past several years, many questions remain unanswered in our view. Second, a number of national and international projects that attempted to ensure more reliable exchanges of methods and results are discussed. However, the frequent lack of publication of procedures and protocols in research can often be a hindrance for sharing those good practices. Subsequently, the efforts made through NanoDiaRA to introduce standardized methods and techniques to support the development and utilization of nanomaterials are discussed in depth. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with the partners of this project, and the interviews were analyzed thematically to highlight the determined efforts of the researchers to standardize their methods. Finally, some recommendations are made toward the setting up of well-defined methods to support the high-quality work of collaborative nanoparticle-based research and development projects and to enhance standardization processes.