We provide a battery of toxicity assays and are developing new methods for safety assessment.
Safety assesment of chemicals
Toxicity testing of chemicals contributes significantly to the prevention of their harmful effects on human health and the environment, and thereby provides an ethical framework for our safety assessment services and technological developments. We provide reliable and validated genotoxicity tests for safety assessment of all kinds of chemicals:
- The EC REACH Regulations on chemicals and their safe use obliges industry to test chemicals for their toxic effects on health and the environment;
- Chemical substances covered by other regulations (including biocides, cosmetics, food and food additives) are also subjected to toxicological testing;
- Novel pharmaceuticals require testing before considering animal or clinical trials;
- The rapid increase in production of nanomaterials demands special attention, as their behaviour differs significantly from that of their conventional counterparts.
Our core toxicity assays include:
- Comet assay for testing of DNA breakage, DNA oxidation and DNA repair
- In vivo Mammalian Alkaline Comet Assay (OECD guideline 489)
- Ames test (OECD guideline 471)
- In vitro Mammalian Chromosome Aberration test (OECD guideline 473)
- In vitro Mammalian Cell Gene Mutation Test (OECD guideline 476)
- Micronucleus frequency test (OECD guideline 487)
- Cytotoxicity assessment with AlamarBlue or Colony Forming Efficiency assays
Monitoring the environment
We monitor the overall health of an ecosystem by applying cytogenetic and genotoxicity testing methods to sentinel organisms exposed in their natural environment. In addition, laboratory studies involve exposing organisms to controlled doses of chemicals or radiation.
Based on the relevance, sensitivity and acceptance by regulators our standard ecotoxicity assessment of new substances includes:
- Metabolic activity measurement (cytotoxicity assay)
- Novel comet assay (DNA damage, including oxidation damage)
- Ames test (mutagenicity)
Earthworms, daphnia, zebrafish and Vicia faba are standard environmental test organisms, and we can also test other organisms, such as mussels, fish, frogs or birds.
In addition to testing in the lab we also carry out “field” testing and develop portable equipment suitable for environmental monitoring offshore.
Novel comet assay formats we have recently developed are especially useful, allowing multiple testing under thoroughly controlled exposure conditions.
Expertise and consultancy
We consult and offer expertise in all aspects of genotoxicity assessment of chemicals, biomonitoring and ecotoxicology testing with the comet assay. This includes help with setting up of a new laboratory, establishing new methods and designing experiments.
Human biomonitoring studies
In human biomonitoring, leukocytes from subjects occupationally or environmentally exposed to radiation or chemicals, or from subjects taking part in nutritional intervention studies, are analysed for endogenous damage, antioxidant resistance, and DNA repair.
We have experience in running human nutritional intervention studies, including planning, obtaining ethical approval, collecting and processing samples, administering supplements, and analysing various biomarkers. Due to our extensive collaborations, we have access to medical and laboratory facilities at various Universities in Europe which allows us to carry out clinical trials and specific projects in a cost- and time-efficient manner.
DNA damage occurring in germ cells may lead to chromosome abnormalities in future generations, as well as to subfertile germ cell quality. We can apply the comet assay to monitor genotoxic events in spermatozoa and oocytes. The assay has shown diagnostic value to determine male reproductive health, and can also be used on oocytes (normally from mice or frogs) to assess the genotoxicity of chemicals, drugs and environmental pollutants.