The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ToxCast™ Program, launched to forecast the toxicity of chemical compounds for humans and the environment, is expanding genomic data collection through a renewed five-year contract with Expression Analysis (EA), which will serve as the program's primary contractor for RNA biomarker analysis.
The $27 million contract calls for EA to investigate toxicology-related RNA biomarkers for up to 12,100 compounds in 121,100 biological samples using high-throughput PCR assays, gene expression microarrays, and transcriptome sequencing. EA will perform bioinformatic and statistical analyses to ensure the end-point data incorporated into the ToxCast database accurately represent the biology of the sample and are not subject to assay artifacts or batch-related effects.
"Our role is to provide reproducible end-point data for the EPA's toxicologists who are the primary investigators for ToxCast. The integrity of genomic data for this long-term study is crucial. ToxCast has the potential to greatly enhance the EPA's ability to predict the toxicity of various chemicals as well as prioritize the chemicals for rigorous toxicity testing," says Wendell Jones, Ph.D., Vice President of Bioinformatics and Statistics at EA.
All work will be conducted in EA's GLP-compliant, CLIA-certified laboratories under rigorous quality control standards. As structured in the previous contract, the EPA will review detailed Standard Operating Protocols for every assay performed and audit EA's facilities at the discretion of the Director of Quality Assurance at the National Center for Computational Toxicology.
Existing ToxCast initiatives have profiled approximately 2,000 chemicals from a broad range of sources, including industrial and consumer products, pesticides, food additives, products advertised as "green," nanomaterials and drugs not placed on the market.