Nanotoxicology and nanomedicine: the Yin and Yang of nano-bio interactions for the new decade

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


  • Olesja Bondarenko
  • Monika Mortimer
  • Anne Kahru
  • Neus Feliu
  • Ibrahim Javed
  • Aleksandr Kakinen
  • Sijie Lin
  • Tian Xia
  • Yang Song
  • Thomas P. Davis
  • Wolfgang J. Parak
  • David Tai Leong
  • Pu Chun Ke
  • Chunying Chen
  • Yuliang Zhao

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Tallinn
  • University of Helsinki
  • China Jiliang University
  • Estonian Academy of Sciences
  • University of Hamburg
  • Fraunhofer Center for Applied Nanotechnology (IAP-CAN)
  • The University of Queensland
  • Tongji University
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • University of California
  • Southwest University
  • Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • National University of Singapore
  • The GBA National Institute for Nanotechnology Innovation
  • National Center for Nanoscience and Technology Beijing


Nanotoxicology and nanomedicine are two sub-disciplines of nanotechnology focusing on the phenomena, mechanisms, and engineering at the nano-bio interface. For the better part of the past three decades, these two disciplines have been largely developing independently of each other. Yet recent breakthroughs in microbiome research and the current COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate that holistic approaches are crucial for solving grand challenges in global health. Here we show the Yin and Yang relationship between the two fields by highlighting their shared goals of making safer nanomaterials, improved cellular and organism models, as well as advanced methodologies. We focus on the transferable knowledge between the two fields as nanotoxicological research is moving from pristine to functional nanomaterials, while inorganic nanomaterials – the main subjects of nanotoxicology – have become an emerging source for the development of nanomedicines. We call for a close partnership between the two fields in the new decade, to harness the full potential of nanotechnology for benefiting human health and environmental safety.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: This work was supported by Estonian Research Council grant PUT1015 , ERDF project TK134 , the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 835140 and Research Infrastructure Project NanoCommons (grant Agreement No 731032 ), the Australian Research Council Project No. CE140100036 , United States National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number ( U01ES027237 ) as part of the Nanotechnology Health Implications Research (NHIR) Consortium, the NSFC grants #21607115 and #21777116 , and by the Cluster of Excellence 'Advanced Imaging of Matter' of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - EXC 2056 - project ID 390715994 . We thank Prof. Marcel Leist for insightful discussion. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd


Original languageEnglish
Article number101184
Number of pages11
JournalNano Today
Early online date13 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2021


  • Coronavirus, Microbiome, NanoEL, Nanomedicine, Nanotoxicology, Protein corona

Sustainable Development Goals