The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week awarded a five-year contract to BioSeek, Inc., to research and evaluate the potential human health effects of substances such as environmental chemicals, pesticides, failed pharmaceuticals, and nanomaterials.
Under the contract, BioSeek will analyze up to 60,000 samples to determine the potential toxicity effects on the human body. Rather than testing the substances on animals, tests will be conducted on extracted human cells cultures utilizing the company’s BioMAP assay technology.
Work is being performed by BioSeek under U.S. EPA’s ToxCast program, which seeks to verify “toxicity signatures” of substances, such as environmental chemicals, and catalog them to help predict adverse effects these chemicals would have on the human body.
EPA researchers have published a number of papers showing how ToxCast can be used to predict a chemical’s potential for liver toxicity, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity and cancer.
“Our efforts are providing EPA with important information relevant to the potential human health effects associated with exposure to a wide range of environmental and other compounds,” said Ellen Berg, Ph.D., General Manager of BioSeek. “Additionally, this work will expand the BioMAP reference database with a wealth of new information for mining with our pharmaceutical partners to help understand their compounds’ safety and activity in the context of human biology, prior to entering costly clinical trials.”
EPA will additionally use BioSeek’s findings to screen thousands of chemicals to see if they require additional investigation. The contract is worth up to $46.7 million over the five-year duration.