Saturday, December 17, 2011

Screening to Protect Human Health

A high-speed robotic screening system to protect human health from chemicals is being tested in the U.S. NIH, EPA, and FDA are collaborating on the project and are beginning to test 10,000 compounds for potential toxicity. Evaluating chemical toxicity has the potential to revolutionize the assessment of new environmental chemicals and enable the development of new drugs for therapeutic use.

“The robotic screening system referred to as Tox21 can rapidly assess drug toxicity and will become a powerful safety tool for protecting the American public. The system also has the potential to help bring innovative drugs to market by allowing drug developers to identify unsafe candidate drugs early,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D, Director or the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Scientific testing will be able to evaluate chemicals to see if they have the potential to disrupt processes in the human body to an extent that could led to adverse health effects. The compounds will be tested in the Tox21 system at the NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) which is part of the NIH Center for Translational Therapeutics housed at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

The project referred to as the National Toxicology Program (NTP) is administered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). A portion of the 10,000 compounds contained in the library of information will focus on pilot testing several formulations or mixtures of compounds. Each test compound will undergo a thorough chemical analysis to verify the chemical’s identity to determine the chemical’s purity, concentration, and stability. The Tox21 robot originally was purchased with funds provided by the NTP, but since that time, the robot has undergone rigorous testing since it was unveiled earlier this year.

All testing results will be available to the public through NIH and EPA chemical toxicity databases. In addition, the NIH Center for Translation Therapeutics has created a Tox21 chemical inventory browser available at to provide additional information on the chemicals.

Go to for more information about Tox21.