The EPA awarded contracts to NovaScreen Biosciences and Cellumen to profile potential toxins."The goals of this program: to better prioritize environmental chemicals while reducing costs and dependency on animal testing, are perfectly aligned with Cellumen's goals in developing cytotoxicity profiling panels,” says Kate Johnston, vp of discovery programs at Cellumen.
“This project provides a strong opportunity to demonstrate our value for both environmental and pharmaceutical applications,” Johnston adds. Cellumen reports that its cytotoxicity profiling method measures a full dose response for 11 cellular systems biology parameters at three time points, yielding 330 data points for each compound. Informatics is then applied to analyze, mine, and display the data to identify patterns of activity and provide insights into mechanism of action.
NovaScreen, the in vitro discovery services arm of Caliper Discovery Alliances and Services (CDAS), will receive from $1.4 to $69 million over the course of two to five years. The specific dollar value within this range will be based primarily upon the volume of testing requested by the EPA and the availability of funds for future years, according to the company.
As part of the EPA's ToxCast research program, CDAS will utilize biochemical and cellular assays, validated in the pharmaceutical drug discovery industry, to help predict how chemicals, such as pesticides, will interact with the environment, humans, and animals. CDAS will leverage its screening tools and Side-Effect Database (SED), representing screening results from 2,300 compounds tested against more than 70 biological targets, to provide comprehensive laboratory testing and analysis services across a broad range of specific protein targets of interest to the EPA.