Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genomic technologies to identify toxic chemicals should be developed

10.10.2007
A new report from the National Research Council recommends that government agencies enhance their efforts to incorporate genomic data into risk assessments of chemicals and medicines, and calls for a concerted effort to fully develop these methods' potential to protect public health.

Chemicals and drugs often cause health problems by altering gene expression and other cell activity, and research on these processes -- called toxicogenomic research -- could eventually lead to more-sensitive toxicity tests that can supplement current tests, the report says. Toxicogenomic tests can also pinpoint individuals with genetic vulnerabilities and help them avoid chemicals or medications that might make them ill.

A major, coordinated effort approaching the scale of the Human Genome Project is needed both to develop these technologies fully and to address the ethical challenges they pose, such as protecting the confidentiality of individuals' genetic information, the report says. As part of this endeavor, which could be called a "human toxicogenomics initiative," a new database is needed to consolidate the massive amounts of data currently being generated by toxicogenomic studies.

"We have just begun to tap the potential for toxicogenomic technologies to improve risk assessment," said David Christiani, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and professor of occupational medicine and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. "To harvest public health benefits requires both greater investment in research and coordinated leadership."

Toxic substances and drugs can potentially disrupt gene processes within cells, thus disturbing the cells' healthy functioning. In addition, an individual's genetic variations can leave him or her particularly susceptible to the effects of chemicals or side effects of medications. For example, studies have shown that certain inherited gene variations may make some people more prone to symptoms such as nausea and impaired muscle function when exposed to a common pesticide, the report notes.

Using new toxicogenomic technologies, researchers can identify toxic processes as they unfold at an early, molecular stage, long before symptoms appear. This knowledge will support the development of tests that can more accurately predict whether a chemical will be hazardous, and at what dose. The tests' sensitivity also could lead to better prediction and prevention of damage to fetuses at critical stages of development. Finally, toxicogenomic studies can inform individuals about their particular genetic vulnerabilities.

Given the potential of toxicogenomics to reduce and prevent health risks, regulatory agencies should expand their research and enhance efforts to use these methods to aid risk assessments, the report says. It also calls on the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and other stakeholders in government, academia, and industry to explore the feasibility of implementing a concerted human toxicogenomics initiative.

A crucial part of this effort will be the creation of a single public database to collect toxicogenomic data and integrate it with data on health effects generated by traditional toxicology studies, the report says. Such a database will let scientists see connections between activity at a molecular level and the symptoms that result, and decipher how multiple genetic reactions at the cellular level can combine to cause adverse outcomes. New studies will also be needed to generate data on the genomic effects of chemicals for which traditional toxicity data already exist. And a national "biorepository" for physical samples -- human blood and tissue, for example -- will be useful for future toxicogenomic studies. Every effort should be made to use samples already being collected for other research, the report urges.

The generation of data from such studies, and toxicogenomic research in general, raises a host of social, legal, and ethical questions that the new initiative needs to address -- including protecting the privacy of genetic and health data, the report says. Individuals might decide against genetic testing if there is a danger that health insurers or employers could access their information and use it to deny them insurance or work. Safeguarding the privacy of this data will be increasingly challenging as the use of electronic medical records grows.

Improved legislation is needed to protect the privacy, confidentiality, and security of health information anywhere it is collected, stored, and transmitted -- not just at organizations already subject to privacy rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The decision to learn about one's genetic vulnerabilities should rest with the individual, the report says. And except in rare circumstances, people who choose to get tested to learn about their particular genetic susceptibilities to a workplace chemical should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to accept the risks involved in employment.

Sara Frueh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nap.edu

Further reports about: Assessment Health studies technologies toxic toxicogenomic

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>