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2012 EPA Research Progress Report

ToxCast Partnership to Advance Chemical Testing, Reduce Animal Testing

A mechanized, robot-assisted chemical screening system run with EPA partners is advancing the science of toxicology.

A major component of EPA’s computational toxicology research (see previous stories) is EPA’s toxicity forecaster, or “ToxCast.” Researchers are using ToxCast as part of work to systematically screen chemicals to better understand the potential impact exposures have on processes in the human body that lead to adverse health effects.

Using ToxCast, EPA screened more than 1,000 chemicals in some 700 fast, automated tests called high throughput assays. Research results, presented in a host of published scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, show ToxCast can be used to predict a chemical’s potential for liver toxicity, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and cancer.

Based largely on the promising results of ToxCast for advancing computational toxicology methods and for ushering in a new generation of chemical screening methods that will be faster, less costly, and greatly reduce the use of laboratory animals, EPA and the cosmetics company L’Oréal announced a collaboration to expand the work to include substances from the cosmetic sector in March 2012.

As part of the partnership, L’Oréal is providing EPA with $1.2 million in collaborative research funding plus robust safety data from a set of representative cosmetic substances. Substances from L’Oréal are being assessed by ToxCast and results will be compared to the safety data L’Oréal provided.

For more than 30 years, L’Oréal has invested in animal-free toxicology tests and the EPA collaboration will help the company to make predictions on the safety of substances earlier in the development process. It also expands the types of chemical use groups that EPA researchers are now assessing in ToxCast.

The L’Oréal research partnership is just one of many that EPA researchers have fostered to increase the scope and impact of computational toxicology research efforts. One of the largest is the Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century (Tox21) collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, which pools federal resources and expertise to screen more than 10,000 chemicals for potential toxicity (see EPA’s Computational Toxicology Research).

EPA now has partners from more than 100 different organizations ranging from industry, academia, trade associations, other federal agencies, state governments, and non-governmental organizations. Partners provide a wide variety of support, including chemicals, software, chemical toxicity study data and results, different kinds of high-throughput screening, and much more.

Partnerships are finalized through numerous types of agreements. Individuals and organizations with an interest in promoting the use of computational toxicology and exposure science are invited to participate in EPA’s Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice.

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