The university’s Systems Biology Research Group is partnering eight other universities, institutes and companies in a €2.8 million European Commission initiative to build a data bank of information about a key aspect of research which is usually gleaned from animal tests.
The project will record, store and make available findings and predictions about levels of toxic harm of chemicals including many in everyday use in homes, shops, offices and other workplaces.
A major aim of the project, coordinated by the University of Warsaw, will be that firms making items such as medicines, tablets, cosmetics or weed-killer, will have easy computer access to information and forecasts about the toxicity of chemical compounds.
That, in turn, could lead to a cut in animal testing, since researchers will no longer have to duplicate experiments and could use the computer models to forecast properties of a new compound instead.
Research Fellow Mathilde Romberg, UU’s chief researcher on the project, said: “Chemical components influence our life in a multitude of ways – from drugs, new materials, fertilisers to cosmetics. It is essential to our well-being that we know about the properties of all these substances, whether they could do harm to our environment and, directly or indirectly, to humans.”
The project, Chemomentum ( www.chemomentum.org) pools the work of other experts in Estonia, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. The intention is to develop a computer software system that will provide manufacturers and industrial pharmacists with vital information – especially the level of toxicity – about ingredients they may be developing for use in a new product.
Ms Romberg said: “The toxicity of a compound is important for judging its harmfulness or also, in the context of drugs, its effectiveness. For instance, in the development process of a new drug to combat cancer, one looks for components which kill the specific type of cancer cells but leave other cells unaffected. The production of compounds used, say, for flavouring food or for removing weeds from your patio also has to involve strict evaluation of their toxic effects. Most of the testing involved the use of animals.”
Ms Romberg, who holds an MSc in Informatics from Aachen University of Technology in Germany, is leading research on UU’s component in the project – the compilation of one of the workpackages on knowledge-base and data management. She is a specialist in applying “grid computing” to computational biology. Grid computing is an evolving new technology which employs a combination of huge computation, massive data input and widespread collaborative systems to tackle grand-scale problems. Experts say the enormous potential of computer grids is likely to transform computer power available to the individual.
“Chemomentum involves connecting already-available data from experiments to develop the mathematical prediction models, and also computational resources for the different calculations,” she explained.
“Based on methods from distributed and grid computing, a user friendly system will be developed to help the chemical industry and European regulatory bodies to evaluate the substances and assess related risks, with fewer and fewer animal tests.”
David Young | alfa
Defining the backbone of future mobile internet access
21.07.2017 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik
Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation
20.07.2017 | Brown University
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy