EPA said today it awarded Expression Analysis (EA) a renewed five-year, $27 million contract toward expanded genomic data collection through the agency’s ToxCast program, which forecasts the toxicity of chemical compounds for humans and the environment.
EA agreed 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 said it will perform bioinformatic and statistical analyses to ensure that endpoint data incorporated into the ToxCast database accurately represent the biology of the sample, and are not subject to assay artifacts or batch-related effects. All work will be conducted in EA’s GLP-compliant, CLIA-certified laboratories.
As set in its previous contract with EA, EPA will review detailed standard operating protocols for every assay performed and audit the company’s facilities at the discretion of the director of quality assurance at the agency’s National Center for Computational Toxicology.
“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., EA’s VP of bioinformatics and statistics.
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.
EA will serve as the program’s primary contractor for RNA biomarker analysis under its contract with the agency—the latest in a series between the agency and company stretching back to 2003.