Nanotech Update: FDA Enters Into MOU With Air Force Research Laboratory to Facilitate Sharing of Nanotoxicology Information

August 27, 2009

By Ricardo Carvajal

In an apparent effort to leverage against the scientific resources of other federal agencies, FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (“NCTR”) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) that provides for the sharing of nanotoxicology information with the Air Force Research Laboratory, 711 Human Performance Wing, Human Effectiveness Directorate, Biosciences and Protection Division (“AFRL”).  According to the MOU, FDA and AFRL “intend to coordinate research efforts so as to identify and expedite research and development of new tools and technologies that can be implemented that promote new understanding of the mechanisms of biological responses to environmental stressors, including toxic injury, and to identify biomarkers of exposure and disease that can be used to improve and protect human health.”  The MOU identifies a number of specific objectives, some of which relate to issues that have been the subject of much  discussion in the scientific and regulatory communities (e.g., toxicity of nanomaterials and the blood brain barrier, and identification of biosignatures of exposure).

NCTR’s mission is to conduct scientific research in support of FDA’s regulatory needs.  Those needs are evident in the area of nanotechnology, as recognized by FDA’s Nanotechnology Task Force.  In its 2007 report on nanotechnology, the Task Force recommended that FDA promote and participate in “research and other efforts to increase scientific understanding, to facilitate assessment of data needs for regulated products.”  The Task Force specifically recommended that FDA leverage against activities of other Federal agencies, and that FDA participate in collaborative efforts “to further understanding of biological interactions of nanoscale materials.”  The MOU with AFRL is clearly in line with those recommendations, and follows the announcement of a similar collaborative effort with the Alliance for NanoHealth (see our prior post here).  These collaborative efforts are likely to be of substantial importance to FDA, given that the agency receives no funding from the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

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