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Toxicology in the 21st Century

Tox21 in Action

May 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with NCATS and the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, announced semi-finalists for the Transform ToxTesting Challenge. These individuals will develop working prototypes to allow both chemicals and their metabolite products to be evaluated during high-throughput screening in NCATS’ Tox21 labs to predict health effects.

January 2016

Tox21 seeks participants for the Tox Testing Challenge, with an award up to $1 million to improve the relevance and predictivity of data generated from automated chemical screening technology used for toxicity testing. The Challenge is cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NCATS, and the National Toxicology Program within the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

January 2015

NCATS announces the winners of the Tox21 Data Challenge 2014 (see below). Models from the seven winning teams all display good predictive power, achieving greater than 80 percent accuracy, and several models exceed 90 percent accuracy.

Tox21 collaborators also publish a study in the Jan. 13, 2015, issue of Environmental Health Perspectives to introduce a new way to measure human differences in sensitivity to chemicals. To establish safe levels of chemicals for human use, regulatory officials traditionally have used animal toxicology data to predict human responses to chemicals. This imperfect practice highlights a critical translational science and public health problem tackled by the Tox21 team, who used NCATS’ robotic screening capabilities to test the cells of more than 1,000 individuals with different genetic backgrounds for sensitivity to 179 chemicals.

July 2014

Tox21 scientists publish the first results from screening the Tox21 10K library in the July 11, 2014, issue of Scientific Reports. The group developed an assay to test the effects of the approximately 10,000 chemicals on estrogen receptors, which are activated by the estrogen hormone and convey signals to the body that regulate reproductive functioning. Some chemicals may cause certain cancers or birth defects by mimicking estrogen and activating its receptors.

Tox21 experts also launch Data Challenge 2014, a crowdsourcing competition to develop computational models that can better predict chemical toxicity. Selected models will become part of the Tox21 program arsenal of tools that help researchers assess how various chemicals might disrupt biological processes in the human body and lead to negative health effects. Challenge participants will use data from nuclear receptor signaling and stress pathway assays (tests) run against Tox21’s 10K library to build models and look for structure-activity relationships.

2011

Collaborators publish details about the Tox21 program and its progress, including: