ECETOC and EEMS jointly organise 2 sessions at EEMS Conference

ECETOC and EEMS (European Environmental Mutagen Society), co-sponsored by LRI (the Cefic Long-range Research Initiative), have jointly organised two sessions at this year’s annual EEMS conference that took place on Kos Island in Greece this 5 July 2005.
The objective was to:

  1. review the state of the science in the fast developing area of biomarkers in identifying exposure to environmental stressors and subsequently in the field of molecular epidemiology, and
  2. address our current understanding of the role of genotoxic environmental agents in childhood disease.

EEMS’ Symposium session on “Biomarkers and Molecular Epidemiology – Present state and future trends” attracted close to 200 participants. Following a series of presentations (outlined below) and discussions, it was concluded that the use of biomarkers of exposure in environmental carcinogenesis has known limited success so far. Proper field validation is required, even for simple DNA adducts in terms of dose-response and background variation, especially in populations with a low level of exposure. Genomics-based biomarkers may present a new data-rich technique, but needs proper validation. Another promising possibility may be epigenetics-based biomarkers.

The parallel Workshop on “Environmental genotoxins and children’s health” attracted close to 100 participants and presented a new topic for many members of the audience. Following the presentations (outlined below) and discussions, it was concluded that there is an absence of systematic knowledge on the role of chemical genotoxins in children’s diseases. Some child diseases are on the increase such as asthma and leukaemia, while others are decreasing like autism and lymphoma (see ECETOC technical report No. 96 on Children’s health). Children may be more, less or equally sensitive than adults, and display “windows of vulnerability.” The placental perfusion model is promising. Since no causal relation between child cancer environmental genotoxins can be established as yet, some knowledge gaps need to be filled. These include:

  1. Discovery of molecular changes in childhood cancer and perinatal animal tumours,
  2. Ontogeny of metabolism and DNA repair (humans, rodents) and
  3. Analysis of mal-mediated and transgenerational effects (humans, rodents). Finally, the role of nutrition, infection, and lifestyle in childhood disease is not yet well understood.

Session programmes

08.30-10.30 Symposium 2: Biomarkers and molecular epidemiology: Present state and future trends (organised by ECETOC, co-sponsored by LRI)
Chairs: Soterios A. Kyrtopoulos (National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens) and Barry Elliot (Syngenta, Macclesfield)

  • 08.30 Barry Elliot (Syngenta, Macclesfield): Introduction

  • 08.35 Herman Autrup (University of Aarhus): Biomarkers – indicators of risk or exposure?

  • 09.00 Jos Kleinjans (University of Maastricht): Applicability of transcriptomics in biomonitoring studies

  • 09.25 Robert Feil (CNRS, Montpellier): Genomic imprinting: A marker of environmental epigenetic effects

  • 09.50 Franco Merlo (National Institute for Cancer Research, Genova): Molecular epidemiology: new rules for new tools?

  • 10.15 Soterios Kyrtopoulos (National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens): Concluding Remarks

  • 10.30 Coffee break

11.00-13.00 Workshop 5: Environmental genotoxins and children’s health (organised by ECETOC, co-sponsored by LRI)
Chairs: Lisbeth Knudsen (University of Copenhagen) and Hans-Jürgen Wiegand (Degussa, Düsseldorf), who had an accident and was replaced by Henk Vrijhof (ECETOC)

  • 11.00 Lisbeth Knudsen (University of Copenhagen): Introduction

  • 11.05 Dirk Pallapies (BASF, Ludwigshafen): Trends in childhood disease

  • 11.25 Lisbeth Knudsen (University of Copenhagen): Children’s susceptibility

  • 11.45 Radim Sram (Institute of Experimental Medicine, Prague): Evidence of effects of ambient environment on children’s health

  • 12.05 Kirsi Vähäkangas (University of Kuopio): Experimental models to study human transplacental exposure to genotoxic agent

  • 12.25 Lucy M. Anderson (NIH, Maryland): Environmental genotoxins/carcinogens and children’s health: current gaps in scientific knowledge

  • 12.45 Hans-Juergen Wiegand (Degussa, Düsseldorf): Concluding remarks

Papers based on the aforementioned Symposium and Workshop presentations will be published as a special issue of Mutation Research (Elsevier) in 2006.

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