Volume 86 Issue 7 | p. 7 | News of The Week
Issue Date: February 18, 2008

NIH and EPA collaborate on chemical testing program

Department: Government & Policy

NIH and EPA last week unveiled a collaboration to rapidly test tens of thousands of chemicals for toxic effects. The work is expected to generate data specific to human health effects of exposure to a panoply of chemicals.

Ultimately, NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni says, this information will help improve people's health.

The effort represents a major step toward moving the field of toxicology from traditional studies on laboratory animals—which are expensive and take years to complete—to rapid, automated testing using cultured human cells.

The collaboration brings together two NIH programs and an EPA research effort. One of the NIH programs, the Chemical Genomics Center, has industrial-scale equipment that can test thousands of chemicals using cells in a matter of hours. The other NIH program, the National Toxicology Program, is housed in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and has tested some 2,500 chemicals through traditional animal studies during the past three decades.

EPA's National Center for Computational Toxicology will use its computer resources to compare traditional, animal-derived toxicology data with the results from the new, automated methods. Robert Kavlock, director of the EPA center, says the results from the collaboration could eventually help scientists determine health effects from mixtures of substances. The work could also identify populations of people who, due to their genetic makeup, are particularly susceptible to toxic effects of particular chemicals, he adds.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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