EPA, Scientists Discuss ToxCast Impacts Method

More than 200 scientists, regulators, and policy makers from around the world convened recently at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's first ToxCast Data Analysis Summit to discuss results of the first phase of ToxCast.

ToxCast is an innovative approach for profiling how chemicals in the environment impact important biological pathways that are critical for the function of the body's systems, such as the heart, lungs, brain, or reproductive organs.

EPA launched the ToxCast research program in 2007 to develop a cost-effective approach for prioritizing the toxicity testing of large numbers of chemicals in a short time. This new approach to determining how toxic chemicals could impact human health uses cutting-edge biological tests to determine how chemicals affect cellular functions. ToxCast will help EPA determine under what conditions environmental exposures pose risks to human health.

During the first phase of ToxCast, agency researchers conducted more than 200,000 experiments looking at the interactions between approximately 300 chemicals and 500 biological targets such as hormone receptors and liver enzymes. EPA researchers provided early access to the initial ToxCast data to research groups around the world, and this data was the foundation for discussions at the meeting. To evaluate the value of ToxCast, the new data is being compared to those generated by traditional toxicity testing methods Based upon input from the meeting, EPA researchers are now preparing to launch a second phase of the ToxCast program that will expand on and verify the ability of this approach to predict potential human toxicity. EPA expects to complete this second phase of ToxCast over the next several years, and at that time be ready to deliver an innovative computational method for evaluating potential health impacts of environmental chemicals.

EPA and Pfizer, Inc. announced at the meeting that the company is making public clinical data on more than 100 drugs that showed adverse effects in clinical human testing. The agency will run the compounds through ToxCast, which will provide a critical and direct link to human toxicity outcomes.

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