5-6 December 2011
Via Nazionale 7, 00184 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 4707 825/827
Fax: +39 06 4820 099
Background to this workshop
Currently, the main applications of “omics technologies (genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabonomics) in toxicology are in the development of methods for prioritising chemicals for screening and testing. The potential of these technologies in chemical hazard identification and risk assessment is well recognised as they offer certain advantages over traditional toxicological approaches (ECETOC, 2001; Sarrif et al, 2005, ECETOC 2008, 2010).
With the increased attention to and interest in epigenomics in the scientific community, this field is rapidly evolving but is still at a relatively early stage with respect to its application in (eco)toxicology. Currently, epigenetic testing is insufficiently validated in order to be included into the regulatory process. For example, there is no single test available for determining epigenetic effects and there is an incomplete understanding of the normal DNA-modification patterns and long-term effects to e.g. the public health. In addition, a screening scheme to prioritise chemicals through epigenetic analysis has not been developed. Epigenetic changes can be triggered by environmental factors. For example exposure to metals, persistent organic pollutants or endocrine disrupting chemicals has been shown to modulate epigenetic marks, not only in mammalian cells or rodents, but also in environmentally relevant species such as fish or water fleas.
In order to increase our understanding of the science of epigenetics in toxicology and risk assessment, a solid understanding of the biology and variation in the epigenome is essential to eliminate concerns about possible adverse health effects related to epigenetic changes. In particular, very little is known about which epigenetic alterations are part of normal variability and what could be considered adverse and, hence, pose a health risk. Also, the extent to which the fundamental principles that guide toxicology such as: relevant doses, dose-rates, routes of exposure, and experimental models, should to be taken into consideration in the design and interpretation of epigenomic studies is still under debate.
The workshop will address the following aspects:
- to examine scientific and technological approaches to identify and quantify epigenetic effects of chemicals and to assess their potential effects on human health and ecology.
- to consider the strengths and weaknesses and the costs and benefits of looking at epigenetic effects of chemicals by using new approaches and technologies.
In particular the workshop will address the following points:
- Definition of epigenetic changes and effects in the context of (eco-) toxicology.
- What are the consequences of epigenetic changes induced by exogenous substances on human and environmental health?
- Is the current way of assessing the safety of chemicals able to detect adverse effects related to epigenetic changes?
- Case studies: implications of epigenetics in adverse effects in Humans, in animal models and ecotoxicology
- Series of 20-minute talks and case studies.
- Syndicate sessions addressing specific questions.
- Plenary feedback.
- Further discussions.