Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

New Center a Stroke of Gene-Ius

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

New Center a Stroke of Gene-Ius

Article excerpt

NIEHS scientists are working with the Human Genome Project to make environmental medicine uniquely individual. On 7 December 2000, the NIEHS officially opened the National Center for Toxicogenomics (NCT) to begin studying how thousands of genes interact and respond to environmental exposures during different stages of health and disease. Some of the diseases associated with environmental factors that toxicogenomics may help to elucidate include cancer, pulmonary disease, neurodegenerative disorders, developmental disorders, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, and autoimmune disease. Toxicogenomics is a relatively new field that uses microarray technology and incorporates information from the Human Genome Project to develop highly individual toxicologic assays. Thus, says Ben Van Houten, the coordinator for the new center, the field offers the "interesting ability to personalize medicine."

Toxicogenomics tracks simultaneously the response of thousands of genes to environmental stimuli using glass slides of DNA combined with computational data analysis of the genes. The NIEHS has developed an innovative microarray technology called the ToxChip, and is building a library of ToxChip patterns that will eventually represent all known toxicants. Such tools should give environmental health researchers the ability to identify people who are at particular risk for being harmed by specific toxicants by enabling them to study how genes respond to particular chemicals. …

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