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To provide for some uniformity in how nanomaterial characterization is performed, several new pilot efforts are underway to standardize the number and types of protocols that should be performed on nanomaterials to establish some meaningful measure of the quality and reliability of published and private data. These efforts tend to follow the spirit of the MIAME (Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment) standard by the MGED Society which “specifies all the information necessary to interpret the results of the experiment unambiguously and to potentially reproduce the experiment.” For example the Min Char (Minimum Information for Nanomaterial Characterization) Initiative has published a suggested minimum list of parameters necessary to characterize nanomaterial as well as some supplementary considerations that should be considered for completeness- http://characterizationmatters.org/{multi-excerpt-include:

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. Other organizations such as the OECD and several SDOs are considering other recommendations for additional characterizations. However, there is not yet movement toward an overall classification scheme for different levels of characterization that would be useful in annotating nanomaterial data as to its degree of quality and reliability. Some of the underlying issues, such as aggregating information on the interference produced by certain nanomaterial types, sizes and functionalizations, and the effects of sample preparation are actively being considered, and have initiated other efforts in data characterization standards such as that of caBIG’s Nanotechnology Working Group. In particular ONAMI is developing a Nanomaterial-Biological Interaction Knowledgebase to aid in interpretation of the effects of nanomaterial exposures as well as innovative rapid in vivo assessments of potential toxicity at multiple levels of biological organization (molecular, cellular, system and organism) using embryonic zebrafish.

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An important area of activity involving new pilots is that of database federation. Although currently nanotechnology databases cite and link to each other, only recently have there been discussions of federating different databases to permit common searches through all the databases in a federation. Such federation would provide more than ease of search: with sufficient capability to safeguard proprietary data, federation would permit searches over both public and private data in a controlled manner, greatly expanding the amount of data available, and creating a mechanism for expert annotation and curation of data at its source. This is particularly important due to the fact that most nanomaterial data is available through publications and that it will be otherwise difficult to annotate this data with regard to its quality and reliability (as discussed above) lacking such a mechanism. The topic has been discussed at several recent workshops including the 2008 NanoHealth Enterprise Workshop (now the NanoHealth and Safety Enterprise) and the October 10, 2008 NIST Nanoinformatics Workshop, as well as ongoing work in caBIG;s Nanotechnology Working Group. Databases currently being considered for a pilot federation include NCI’s caNanoLAB, the CSN, ONAMI, NNI’s NanoHUB (http://nanohub.org/{multi-excerpt-include:

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) and the National Nanomanufacturing Network (http://www2a.cdc.gov/niosh-nil/), and NIOSH’s Nanoparticle Information Library (http://www2a.cdc.gov/niosh-nil/) with possible participation by both the EPA and FDA. Links to ICON (http://www.goodnanoguide.org/tiki-index.php?page=HomePage{multi-excerpt-include:
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) and Nanowerk (http://www.nanowerk.com/phpscripts/n_dbsearch.php{multi-excerpt-include:
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) are also being discussed.

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