Of the roughly 1.7 million cancer cases seen in the U.S. each year, 90 to 95 percent are not caused by heritable genetic factors, making environmental exposures a major suspect in these cases. But of the tens of thousands of chemicals in commercial use, less than two percent have been thoroughly tested for their potential carcinogenicity — that is, whether exposure to a chemical increases a person’s long-term cancer risk — in part due to the extremely costly and time-consuming nature of the current chemical-screening process.
Now, researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Boston University School of Medicine (MED) have developed and evaluated a fast, accurate, and cost-effective approach to assessing the carcinogenicity of chemicals. As a result, they have generated one of the largest toxicogenomics datasets to date, and have made the data and results publicly accessible through a web portal at carcinogenome.org.
The study was published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
“The method we developed, once further optimized and validated, would provide for a fast and cost-effective approach to the prioritization of chemicals for further (more expensive/extensive) testing,” says the study’s senior and corresponding author, Dr. Stefano Monti, associate professor of biostatistics at BUSPH and of medicine at MED.
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