It is possible to predict long-term cancer risk from exposure to an environmental chemical based on its short-term effects, according to a US study.
A team led by Stefano Monti from Boston University, US, analysed gene expression profiles from rats treated for hours, or days, with 127 well-characterised chemicals, including known genotoxic carcinogens. The scientists then combined the gene profiles from short-term exposures with available long-term carcinogenicity labels data.
By comparing the responses to known carcinogens and non-carcinogens, the team was able to build a model to predict a chemical’s carcinogenicity. They then validated this model using a set of 72 compounds from a Japanese Toxicogenomics Project.
The researchers are confident that, with a larger set of compounds, they will be able to improve the accuracy of predictions.
They acknowledge that short-term exposure studies in rats are both expensive and time consuming, and point hopefully to the “next generation” of toxicogenomics tests, which use in vitro human models. “This transition will introduce new challenges, including the accurate translation of in vitro chemical doses to in vivo relevance,” they write.
The study is published in PlosOne.