Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Use of Genomics in Toxicology and Epidemiology: Findings and Recommendations of a Workshop. (Meeting Report)

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Use of Genomics in Toxicology and Epidemiology: Findings and Recommendations of a Workshop. (Meeting Report)

Article excerpt

The sequencing of the human genome has revolutionized biology and led to an astounding variety of technologies and bioinformatics tools, enabling researchers to study expression of genes, the function of proteins, metabolism, and genetic differences within populations and between individuals. These scientific advances are making an impact in the medical research community and hold great promise for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. This developing field also holds great promise for improving the scientific basis for understanding the potential impacts of chemicals on health and the environment. A workshop sponsored by the International Council of Chemical Associations was held to review the state of the science in the application of genomics technologies in toxicology and epidemiology. Further, consideration was given to the ethical, legal, and regulatory issues and their influence on the direction and application of genomics technologies to environmental health research. Four overarching themes emerged from the workshop: Genomics technologies should be used within a framework of toxicology and epidemiology principles and aplied in a context that can be used in risk assessment; effective application of these technologies to epidemiology will require suitable biologic samples from large and diverse population groups at the relevant period of exposure; ethical, legal, and social perspectives require involvement of all stakeholder communities; and a unified research agenda for genomics technologies as applied to toxicology, epidemiology, and risk assessment is urgently needed for the regulatory and scientific communities to realize the potential power and benefits of these new technologies. Key words: chemical industry, epidemiology, ethics, gene expression, genomics, hazard, proteomics, research needs, risk assessment, toxicogenomics.

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A workshop was held on 7-8 March 2001 in Orlando, Florida, to review the state-of-the-science in the application of genomic technologies in toxicology, ecotoxicology, and molecular epidemiology and the importance of these new developments in understanding the potential impacts of chemicals on humans and the environment. Ethical, legal, and regulatory issues and their influence on the direction and application of genomic research were also discussed. The workshop was sponsored by the International Council of Chemical Associations, which is a council of leading trade associations representing chemical manufacturers worldwide. The workshop was attended by more than 80 representatives from industry, academia, and various government agencies from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

This report highlights the issues and recommendations discussed in each of the three areas: toxicology (including ecotoxicology), epidemiology, and ethical, social, and legal issues. Although the workshop presentations described genomics, proteomics, metabonomics, transcriptomics, and associated bioinformatics technologies (collectively referred to in this report as "omics") and the applications of the technologies for risk assessment and epidemiology, the reader is referred to Corton et al. (1999), Afshari et al. (1999), European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (2001), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Center for Toxicogenomics (2001) for background information.

Four overarching themes emerged from the workshop:

* "Omics" technology should be used within a framework of toxicology and epidemiology principles so that it can be applied in a context that is understood for risk assessment.

* Effective application of "omics" to epidemiology studies will require suitable biologic samples from large and diverse population groups at relevant time periods of exposure.

* Discussion from ethical, social, and legal perspectives highlighted the fact that the use of "omics" technology will require the involvement of all stakeholder communities (i. …

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