- High-throughput Screening Examines Multiple Effects of 1060 Compounds on Zebrafish
- Smith Wins 2014 Alexander Hollaender Award for Environmental Exposure Research
- Study Identifies Novel Compounds More Mutagenic than Parent PAHs
- Abdo Describes Innovative 1000 Genomes Toxicity Screening Project at NIEHS
- Eighth Graders Get Real Life Science Experience with OSU SRP
- MSU Jumpstarts Community Engagement in the Michigan Tri-Cities Area
High-throughput Screening Examines Multiple Effects of 1060 Compounds on Zebrafish
An investigation led by Oregon State University Superfund Research Program grantee Robert Tanguay, Ph.D., used high-throughput screening to analyze 1,060 unique compounds for 22 possible effects on zebrafish embryos.
Researchers said this is one of the largest systematic in vivo toxicological studies to date. The model system, zebrafish, can be used to test a large number of chemicals with known structures to look at a large number of biological effects, which can allow for the ability to identify groups of chemicals that may share the same mechanism of toxicity.
Those chemicals that show a response in zebrafish can then be verified and further studied using other systems, such as cell-based testing.
“Our study demonstrates that it is now possible to rapidly evaluate the bioactivity of a large number of chemicals in the whole animal,” said Tanguay. “The ability to screen more of the chemical space will help the field move closer to relevant whole animal chemical structure-response relationships for predictive toxicology.”
A comprehensive screening approach
Using their new approach, the researchers conducted developmental and neurotoxicity screening of 1,060 unique ToxCast chemicals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Center for Computational Toxicology Toxcast program is assessing a large number of chemicals, using a diverse set of in vitro tests, with the goal of developing cost-effective ways to prioritize the thousands of chemicals for which there is no toxicity information.
Of the 1,060 unique chemicals evaluated, 487 showed significant biological responses. The scientists continue to refine their experimental approach and to expand the number of chemicals tested. They are working with the EPA, the National Toxicology Program, and others to compare their zebrafish findings with data collected from mammalian cells and whole animal models. The results will allow them to determine the chemical classes for which the zebrafish model is predictive, and to identify the limitations of the model.
The highly automated and streamlined screening approach developed by the researchers is detailed in a paper published in the January issue of Toxicological Sciences. Visit the NIEHS Environmental Factor website for more on the screening approach.
Smith Wins 2014 Alexander Hollaender Award for Environmental Exposure Research
Martyn Smith, Ph.D., professor of toxicology and Director of the University of California (UC) Berkeley Superfund Research Program, was awarded the 2014 Alexander Hollaender Award by the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS) for his contributions to the field of environmental toxicology. The award recognizes outstanding contributions in the application of the principles and techniques of environmental mutagenesis and genomics to the protection of human health.
“Given the mission of the EMGS and Dr. Smith’s contributions to understanding the human health risks associated with environmental exposures, it is appropriate that Dr. Smith’s contributions be recognized with the Alexander Hollaender Award,” Ofelia Olivero, Ph.D., president of EMGS, wrote in a statement.
The EMGS is a scientific society whose mission is to foster scientific research and education on the causes and basic mechanisms of DNA damage and repair, mutations to DNA, heritable effects, alterations in genome function, and their relevance to disease. The society also promotes the application and communication of this knowledge to genetic toxicology testing, risk assessment, and regulatory policy-making to protect human health and the environment.
The award will be presented to Smith during the EMGS annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, on September 16, 2014.
Study Identifies Novel Compounds More Mutagenic than Parent PAHs
Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have discovered novel breakdown products that form when specific high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) chemically interact with nitrogen. These nitrated-PAHs (NPAHs), which were not previously known to exist, are more mutagenic than their parent PAH compounds.
Mutagens are physical or chemical agents that change the genetic material of an organism, increasing the frequency of mutations. Because many mutations cause cancer, mutagens are likely to also be carcinogens, or agents directly involved in causing cancer.
“Some of the compounds that we’ve discovered are far more mutagenic than we previously understood and may exist in the environment as a result of heavy air pollution from vehicles or some types of food preparation,” said Staci Simonich, Ph.D. , professor of chemistry and toxicology in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Superfund Research Program (SRP) researcher.
According to the OSU press release , NPAHs raise further concerns about the health impacts of heavily-polluted urban air and dietary exposure, although it has not yet been determined in what level the compounds might be present, and no health standards now exist for the compounds.
The study , led by Simonich, was published in January in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Abdo Describes Innovative 1000 Genomes Toxicity Screening Project at NIEHS
Superfund Research Program (SRP) toxicology student Nour Abdo visited the NIEHS main campus in December to present her work on the largest-ever population-based in vitro cell toxicity study. The data comes from her work with the 1000 Genomes Toxicity Screening Project, a collaboration among NIEHS, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and N.C. State University.
Abdo's project includes toxicity screening of 1,086 different human cell lines exposed to 179 widely used environmental chemicals. She collected data on the changes in DNA in response to the chemicals to better understand how genetics influence toxicity across a diverse human population.
In this study, Abdo is also evaluating how useful a population-based system would be for toxicity testing. Furthermore, she is identifying those genes that may be related to chemical susceptibility.
Abdo just began her fourth year as a toxicology Ph.D. student with Ivan Rusyn, M.D., Ph.D., at UNC. Abdo, a Jordan native, received her Bachelors of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (equivalent to a D.V.M.) in Irbid, Jordan. She also received a Masters of Public Health from New Mexico State University before she began her Ph.D. at UNC.
For more information about research led by Rusyn to improve the link between exposures and adverse health effects, visit the Rusyn Laboratory of Environmental Genomics website .
Eighth Graders Get Real Life Science Experience with OSU SRP
Oregon State University (OSU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) investigator Robert Tanguay, Ph.D., connected with an eighth grade class in Massachusetts to describe SRP research and explain concepts related to a problem-based environmental health science curriculum.
The OSU SRP became involved with the class through the OSU Hydroville Curriculum Project , an NIEHS-funded project that uses real-life environmental health problems to stimulate interest in problem-solving, environmental health science, decision making, teamwork, and social responsibility. In the Hydroville Pesticide Scenario , students work in teams to examine and clean-up a large accidental pesticide spill near a river.
In the scenario, students take on the roles of an environmental chemist, environmental toxicologist, soil scientist, and mechanical engineer. This allows students to learn about environmental careers and how different disciplines work together to solve problems.
“I was very pleased with how involved my students were in their roles. Since they were responsible for their own area of expertise, they took ownership of the skills and information that they learned,” said eighth grade science teacher Lisa Troy. “The students also enjoyed fitting their solution into the constraints of a budget, as well as considering stakeholders’ varying viewpoints.”
As part of the collaboration, Tanguay had a Skype session with the class. He described his research and answered questions directly from students. Tanguay and his research team work to better understand the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other chemicals on human development. Students learned how Tanguay is using zebrafish as a model of human response to chemicals.
Read more about OSU’s collaboration with the eighth grade classroom in .OSU SRP’s blog
MSU Jumpstarts Community Engagement in the Michigan Tri-Cities Area
Michigan State University (MSU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Director Norbert Kaminski, Ph.D., presented to the Saginaw-Tittabawassee Rivers Contamination Community Advisory Group (CAG) in November to explain the history and mission of the SRP and provide an overview of the MSU Program. The meeting, which took place in Saginaw, provided a starting point for MSU SRP’s community engagement work in the Michigan Tri-Cities area (Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City).
The CAG advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about issues related to the local Superfund site , which includes the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and a portion of Saginaw Bay. Pollution at the site includes historic releases of dioxins, chemical by-products of various industrial processes, and other contamination from The Dow Chemical Co. in Midland.
The MSU SRP has a history of working to better understand how dioxin and dioxin-like compounds move through the environment, how the chemicals affect our health, and ways microbes may be used to degrade dioxins in the environment.
At the meeting, Kaminski familiarized the group with the SRP, which funds multidisciplinary research that addresses complex human and environmental health issues surrounding hazardous waste sites, and highlighted past successes of the program. He also explained results and ongoing research at MSU SRP related to dioxins and plans to engage communities in the Tri-Cities area to enhance the public's knowledge on the current state of environmental science and dioxin-associated health risks.
“The members of the CAG were all very interested in the Program and were very excited about the proposed community engagement activities,” said Kaminski. “They also provided excellent feedback to ensure that we aren’t reinventing the wheel and duplicating efforts that have already been done by groups in communities near the Superfund site.”
MSU SRP is currently developing a curriculum to explain the state of the science surrounding dioxins and provides problem solving activities for high school science classrooms. They are working with Midland High School to present the curriculum to students in the spring.
“The curriculum will provide Midland high school with the resources to teach students about the contamination along the river in their city and how to minimize exposure,” said Kaminski. “It may also provide an excellent opportunity for our SRP trainees to participate in the presentations and help improve the curriculum.”