A knowledge-based search engine to navigate the information thicket of nanotoxicology
The risk assessment of nano-sized materials (NM) currently suffers from great uncertainties regarding their putative toxicity for humans and the environment. An extensive amount of the respective original research literature has to be evaluated before a targeted and hypothesis-driven Environmental and Health Safety research can be stipulated. Furthermore, to comply with the European animal protection legislation in vitro testing has to be preferred whenever possible. Against this background, there is the need for tools that enable producers of NM and risk assessors for a fast and comprehensive data retrieval, thereby linking the 3Rs principle to the hazard identification of NM. Here we report on the development of a knowledge-based search engine that is tailored to the particular needs of risk assessors in the area of NM. Comprehensive retrieval of data from studies utilising in vitro as well as in vivo methods relying on the PubMed database is presented exemplarily with a titanium dioxide case study. A fast, relevant and reliable information retrieval is of paramount importance for the scientific community dedicated to develop safe NM in various product areas, and for risk assessors obliged to identify data gaps, to define additional data requirements for approval of NM and to create strategies for integrated testing using alternative methods.