Several federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, unveiled on March 23 a high-speed robot screening system that will test 10,000 different chemicals for potential toxicity, according to an announcement from the NIH.
The system marks the beginning of a new phase of an ongoing collaboration, referred to as Tox21, that is working to protect human health by improving how chemicals are tested in the U.S.
The 10,000 chemicals screened by the robot system include compounds found in industrial and consumer products, food additives, and drugs. A thorough analysis and prioritization process from more than 200 public databases of chemicals and drugs used in the U.S. and abroad was conducted to select the initial 10,000 chemicals for testing. Testing results will provide information useful for evaluating if these chemicals have the potential to disrupt human body processes enough to lead to adverse health effects, the NIH reported.
National Human Genome Research Institute
New robot will speed-screen chemicals
The robot system, located at the NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) in Rockville, Md., was purchased as part of the Tox21 collaboration. Tox21 was established in 2008 among the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Toxicology Program (NTP), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the addition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. Tox21 merges existing agency research, funding, and testing tools to develop ways to more effectively predict how chemicals will affect human health and the environment.
“The Tox21 collaboration will transform our understanding of toxicology with the ability to test in a day what would take one year for a person to do by hand,” said Christopher Austin, M.D., the director of the NCGC at NHGRI.
Tox21 has already screened more than 2,500 chemicals for potential toxicity, using robots and other innovative chemical screening technologies.
For b-roll clips from the NCGC facility, see http://www.genome.gov/27543670.
For more information about Tox 21: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/index.cfm?objectid=06002ADB-F1F6-975E-73B25B4E3F2A41CB.
The NIH, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary federal agency for medical research. For details: www.nih.gov.
The NIEHS and NHGRI are parts of the NIH. For details: www.niehs.nih.gov and www.genome.gov
The NTP, an interagency program, is housed at NIEHS. For details: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov.