Caliper Life Sciences, Inc. has announced that it has received a $1.1 million task order under the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ToxCast™ screening program. This task order was issued pursuant to a contract that Caliper was awarded by the EPA in April 2007 under the ToxCast program.
The contract provides for up to $69 million of screening services throughout five years, although the specific dollar value is subject to the actual volume of testing requested by the EPA as well as continued government funding for the ToxCast program.
To date, Caliper has received task orders under this EPA contract totaling approximately $3.6 million, including the new $1.1million task order. This new task order was anticipated and the work associated with this order is expected to be substantially completed during the third quarter of 2008.
Caliper works with the EPA under the ToxCast initiative to develop new approaches to identify chemical compounds that are potentially toxic to the environment. Caliper uses in vitro biochemical assays, which have been validated in the pharmaceutical drug discovery industry, to help predict how chemicals like pesticides will interact with the environment, humans and animals. During the initial phase, Caliper tested 320 well-known chemicals through more than 230 in vitro assays. The new task order will support further screening of this initial set of 320 compounds.
Once the first phase of the ToxCast program is complete, the EPA is expected to begin screening a broader class of compounds to expand the database of bioactivity signatures developed in the first phase. Based on these efforts, the ToxCast screening program will provide the EPA with an efficient tool for screening compounds and prioritizing further toxicity testing.
The ultimate goal is to identify a set of predictive in vitro assays that can supplement or replace in vivo tests currently used for regulatory approval of new environmental chemicals.
Earlier in 2008, the EPA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a collaboration intended to broaden the scope of the ToxCast screening program beyond the EPA, further emphasizing the growing national significance of this initiative.