MERIT: Metabolomics Standards Initiative in Toxicology

MEtabolomics standaRds Initiative in Toxicology (MERIT) is an ECETOC initiative which aims to accelerate the use of metabolomics technology to improve safety assessment of chemicals. Metabolomics is the study of the myriad of small molecules which sustain life, by generating energy, or building larger molecules such as DNA.

Metabolomics technology has the potential to transform chemical risk assessment by providing a deeper view of the molecular events underpinning toxicity than is currently possible. However, because it is so new, scientists do not yet have standard procedures for applying metabolomics or reporting its findings, both of which are needed for chemical risk assessment.

MERIT brings together a team of international experts to address this problem by defining best practices and minimum reporting requirements when metabolomics is used in regulatory toxicology. It comprises partners from industry, government agencies, regulators and academia, from across Europe and the USA, including the US EPA, US FDA, EFSA, UK HSL, BASF HE, Syngenta, Unilever, Imperial College London, University of Birmingham, VU University Amsterdam and the Metabolomics Society Data Standards Task Group.

The MERIT initiative focuses initially on two work packages (WP):

WP 1: Development of best practice guidelines in order to help to harmonise laboratory protocols for the (a) acquisition, (b) processing and analysis of metabolomics data within the context of regulatory toxicology.

WP2: Development of minimal reporting standards to the regulatory agency(ies) including the use of appropriate QA/QC in metabolomics.

For further details, or to express your interest in commenting upon the draft best practices and reporting requirements, please contact the MERIT co-Chairs, Dr Tim Ebbels (t.ebbels@imperial.ac.uk) or Professor Mark Viant (m.viant@bham.ac.uk).