The importance of understanding the interactions between nanoscale materials and living matter has now begun to be appreciated by an extraordinaryly large range of stakeholders, including researchers, industry, governments and society, all of whom appreciate both the opportunities presented by and challenges raised by this arena of research. Not only does it open up new directions in nanomedicine and nanodiagnostics, but it also offers the chance to implement nanotechnology across all industry in a safe and responsible manner. The underlying reasons for this arena as a new scientific paradigm are real and durable. Less than 100 nm nanoparticles can enter cells, less that 40 nm they can enter cell nucleus, and less that 35 nm they can pass through the blood brain barrier. These are fundamental length scales of biological relevance that will ensure that engineered nanoscience will impinge on biology and medicine for many decades to come. One important issue is the current lack of reproducibility of the outcomes of many experiments in this arena. Differences are likely a consequence of such things as uncontrolled nanoparticle aggregation leading to unpredictable doses being presented to cells, interference of the nanoparticles themselves with many of the tests being applied, differences in the degree of confluency of the cells used, and a host of other factors. NanoInteract has shown how careful control of all aspects of the test system, combined with round robin type approaches, can help resolve these issues and begin to ensure that the field can become a quantitative science. The basic principle of NanoInteract is that given identical nanomaterials, cells and biological materials, and using a common protocol, experiments must yield identical answers. Thus, any deviations result from errors in (applying) the protocol which can be tracked and eliminated, until quantitatively reproducible results are obtained by any researcher in any location. This paper outlines the NanoInteract programme, illustrates key advances, and highlights early successes. (www.nanointeract.net)
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