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The ISA-TAB-Nano specification is intended to facilitate the submission and exchange of nanomaterial descriptions and characterization data (metadata and summary data) along with the other files (raw/derived data files, image files, protocol documents, etc.) among individual researchers and to/from nanotechnology resources like the NCI’s cancer Nanotechnology Laboratory (caNanoLab) portal [https://cananolab.nci.nih.gov/caNanoLab] and the Nanomaterial-Biological Interactions (NBI) knowledgebase [http://nbi.oregonstate.edu/

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]. ISA-TAB-Nano also serves to empower organizations to adopt standard methods for representing data in nanotechnology publications; and to provide researchers with guidelines for representing nanomaterials and characterizations to achieve cross-material comparison.

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Life Sciences Domain Analysis Model (LS DAM)

 LS DAM provides a shared view of the semantics of differenct life sciences domains. It has a nanotechnolog subdomain, which was developed based on caNanoLab object model and NPO terms. LS DAM makes a distinction between biospecimens (for example, cell line, tissue samples, body fluid samples, organ parts) and materials that are not derived from a cell, tissue, organ, or body (for example, nanoparticle formulations, drug formulations, solvent, and so forth). This motivated the use of the term “material sample” in the ISA-TAB-Nano material file. Weekly Nano WG web-conferencing was used to ensure the alignment of ISA-TAB-Nano with the LS DAM.

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Like ISA-TAB, ISA-TAB-Nano provides fields for entering and referencing terms selected from ontologies and standard terminologies. The ontologies are available at BioPortal (http://www.bioontology.org

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), which is maintained by the National Center for Biomedical Ontologies. Though the investigator may use alternative ontology and vocabulary sources, the ability to evaluate and share data require that all parties have access to those being used (they should be available to the investigators). All terms and fields used in this standard utilize the NCI EVS (http://evs.nci.nih.gov) and NanoParticle Ontology elements.

NanoParticle Ontology (NPO) [http://www.nano-ontology.org

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] is an ontology that is designed and developed within the framework of the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) and implemented in the ontology web language (OWL). It is being developed to represent the knowledge underlying the description, preparation, and characterization of nanomaterials. NPO development began with the representation of knowledge underlying the chemical composition, preparation, physiochemical, and functional/biological characterization of nanoparticles that are formulated and tested for applications in cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. The NPO provided the knowledge framework for developing the ISA-TAB-Nano material file format. The NPO provides a subset of the terms and relationships for the description and characterization of nanomaterials in the ISA-TAB-Nano file format. The NPO is being further developed for the following purposes: (1) to provide terms for annotating nanotechnology research data; (2) to provide the knowledge framework required for developing data-sharing models and standards in nanomedicine; (3) to enable semantic integration of data; (4) to enable unambiguous interpretation of the description and characterization of nanomaterials; and (5) to enable knowledge-based searching and comparison of nanomaterial descriptions and characterization results.

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Once the ISA-TAB-Nano files have been created, the files can be validated and submitted into nanotechnology resources that support the ISA-TAB-Nano specification. It is anticipated that validation of the files may occur via a validation service that leverages a modified version of the ISA-TAB validator [http://isatab.sourceforge.net/validator.html

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. It is also anticipated that nanotechnology resources like caNanoLab (https://cananolab.nci.nih.gov/caNanoLab/ ), the Nanomaterial-Biological Interactions (NBI) knowledgebase (http://nbi.oregonstate.edu/

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), and other resources will provide facilities for importing/exporting ISA-TAB-Nano files as the ISA-TAB-Nano specification evolves.

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