With around 80,000 untested chemicals in use, Rutgers-led innovation addresses an urgent environmental safety need
The use of animals to test the toxicity of chemicals may one day become outdated thanks to a low-cost, high-speed algorithm developed by researchers at Rutgers and other universities.
Toxicity testing – determining the amount of exposure to a chemical that is unsafe for humans – is vital to the safety of millions of workers in various industries. But of the 85,000 compounds used in consumer products, the majority have not been comprehensively tested for safety. Animal testing, in addition to its ethical concerns, can be too costly and time consuming to meet this need, according to the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
“There is an urgent, worldwide need for an accurate, cost-effective and rapid way to test the toxicity of chemicals, in order to ensure the safety of the people who work with them and of the environments in which they are used,” said lead researcher Daniel Russo, a doctoral candidate at the Rutgers University-Camden Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. “Animal testing alone cannot meet this need.”
Previous efforts to solve this problem used computers to compare untested chemicals with structurally similar compounds whose toxicity is already known. But those methods were unable to assess structurally unique chemicals – and were confounded by the fact that some structurally similar chemicals have very different levels of toxicity.
The Rutgers-led group overcame these challenges by developing a first-of-its-kind algorithm that automatically extracts data from PubChem, a National Institutes of Health database of information on millions of chemicals. The algorithm compares chemical fragments from tested compounds with those of untested compounds, and uses multiple mathematical methods to evaluate their similarities and differences in order to predict an untested chemical’s toxicity.
“The algorithm developed by Daniel and the Zhu laboratory mines massive amounts of data, and discerns relationships between fragments of compounds from different chemical classes, exponentially faster than a human could,” said co-author Lauren Aleksunes, an associate professor at Rutgers’ Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and the Rutgers Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute. “This model is efficient and provides companies and regulators with a tool to prioritize chemicals that may need more comprehensive testing in animals before use in commerce.”
To fine-tune the algorithm, the researchers began with 7,385 compounds for which toxicity data is known, and compared it with data on the same chemicals in PubChem. They then tested the algorithm with 600 new compounds. For several groups of chemicals, the Rutgers-led algorithm had a 62 percent to 100 percent success rate in predicting their level of oral toxicity. And by comparing relationships between sets of chemicals, they shed light on new factors that can determine the toxicity of a chemical.
Although the algorithm was directed only to assess the chemicals’ level of toxicity when consumed orally, the Rutgers-led researchers conclude that their strategy can be extended to predict other types of toxicity.
“While the complete replacement of animal testing is still not feasible, this model takes an important step toward meeting the needs of industry, in which new chemicals are constantly under development, and for environmental and ecological safety,” said the corresponding author Hao Zhu, an associate professor of chemistry at Rutgers-Camden and the Rutgers and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute.
The Latest on: Chemical toxicity testing
via Google News
The Latest on: Chemical toxicity testing
- In Vitro Toxicology Testing Market: Facts, Figures and Analytical Insights 2019 - 2025on November 27, 2019 at 10:00 pm
In vitro toxicity testing is the scientific analysis of the effects of toxic chemical substances on cultured bacteria or mammalian cells. In vitro testing methods are employed primarily to identify ...
- Processing plant in Howell to end use of toxic chemical after air quality concernson November 27, 2019 at 1:19 pm
After testing was conducted the weekend of Nov. 23, it showed that there were low levels of the chemical present in the outdoor air, adding that additional testing showed that the TCE present was ...
- Lawyers for York County farm tainted by ‘forever chemicals’ seeking changes to lawon November 27, 2019 at 6:47 am
AUGUSTA — Attorneys for an Arundel couple whose dairy farm was reportedly contaminated by fertilizer laced with toxic chemicals want Mainers to have more time to ... fluoroalkyl substances referred to ...
- Trouble in Toyland: Annual report on dangerous toys warns of toxic chemicals, hidden hazardson November 27, 2019 at 4:00 am
They recommend testing the toy first to see if you think it's too loud ... including versions designed to look like Captain America’s shield or a Transformer." The report also discusses toxic ...
- Chicken embryo model allows researchers to assess toxicity of environmental pollutantson November 26, 2019 at 6:02 am
Nathalie Tufenkji, co-senior author of the new study and a professor in McGill's Department of Chemical Engineering, said the use of a "higher vertebrate" testing model has the advantage of being able ...
- EPA to help farmers clean up toxic foam chemicalson November 23, 2019 at 11:11 pm
It’s been more than a year since the animals tested positive for toxic chemicals that leaked into the dairy’s water ... Drinking water supplies have not been found to have concerning levels of the ...
- Howell toxic air threat eased by plating equipment shutdownon November 22, 2019 at 1:13 pm
HOWELL, MI — Regulators say the immediate danger from toxic air in Livingston County has passed after a plating company in Howell shut down emissions from equipment that was pushing high levels of a ...
- Toxic PFAS chemicals, found across Pennsylvania, get the Hollywood treatmenton November 21, 2019 at 9:35 am
Authorities and homeowners are finding high levels of PFAS, toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems ... Tom Wolf, in the absence of federal action, announced a plan earlier this ...
- Toxic air near Michigan plating company poses ‘imminent danger’on November 20, 2019 at 11:55 pm
HOWELL, MI — Health officials say a cancer-causing chemical in the air near a Livingston County manufacturing facility poses an “imminent and substantial” danger to the public after industrial ...
- Toxic chemicals found in drinking water at NH schoolon November 20, 2019 at 8:35 am
NEW LONDON, N.H. (AP) A New Hampshire school district will test all its drinking water after one faucet was found to have high levels of a toxic chemical that has raised health concerns. Kearsarge ...
via Bing News