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The Virtual Liver Project (v-Liver™)

It is difficult to predict how long-term exposure to small quantities of chemicals in food and water impact human health. Decades of animal testing shows that chemicals often cause liver injury but it is also clear that this does not accurately predict human toxicity. The v-Liver™ research project aims to estimate the potential of chemicals to cause chronic diseases such as cancer using computer models and simulation. The liver Exit EPA Disclaimer plays an important role in removal chemicals entering the body which means it faces harmful effects if the chemical is toxic. Evaluating the risk of liver toxicity Exit EPA Disclaimer due to these chemicals is critical for protecting public health. To date, animal liver toxicity is often used to establish safe levels of chemicals for humans

v-Liver Research Project is:

  • Building a knowledgebase of chemical effect networks to produce computable models of key molecular, cellular and circulatory systems in the human liver.
  • Building a cell-based tissue simulator that uses systems models and in vitro data to quantitatively estimate health effects for chemicals over time.
  • Investigating a selection of every day chemical contaminants to estimate oral intake values resulting in increased risk of human cancer.
  • Developing 'Virtual Tissues' to evaluate the human health impact of chemicals using in vitro assays, and reducing dependence on animal testing.


  • Large-scale computer model of the complex "wiring diagram" of dynamic liver processes.
  • Developed model will include essential components of liver function and their connecting circuitry that scientists have been studying for decades and new connections discovered through innovative new biotechnology and computer hardware/software.
  • Long-term v-Liver™ will "simulate" the response of the human liver to chemicals and examine these effects in susceptible subpopulations, such as younger or older individuals or those with variations (ie., polymorphisms) in the genes involved in metabolism.
  • Help scientists understand the importance of different factors leading to liver injury in humans.
  • Project will develop tools that will be useful in modeling toxicity in other organs
Comptox GraphicComptox GraphicComptox Graphic

The human liver is made of roughly a million functional units called lobules. Each hepatic lobule receives oxygen-rich blood hepatic arterioles and nutrient- and chemical-laden blood from portal venules. Blood flows past sheets of blood-altering hepatocytes through the sinusoids and into the central vein. We simulate a single, two-dimensional slice of a lobule.

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