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Report urges genomics technology growth

November 08, 2007

A new national report that urges government agencies to accelerate the incorporation of genomic data into risk assessments of chemicals and medicines was co-authored by Gary Marchant, a professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and executive director of its Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology.

The report, titled “Applications of Toxicogenomic Technologies to Predictive Toxicology and Risk Assessment,” was published in October by the National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences. It’s the result of a two-year study conducted by a 16-member panel of scientists and professors from around the country and sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The report pointed out that an individual’s genetic variations can leave him or her particularly susceptible to the effects of chemicals or side effects of medications. For example, certain inherited gene variations may make some people more prone to symptoms such as nausea and impaired muscle function when exposed to a common pesticide.

Chemicals and drugs often cause health problems by altering gene expression and other cell activity, and research on these processes, called toxicogenomic research, could someday lead to better toxicity tests, the committee concluded. Toxicogenomic tests also can pinpoint individuals with genetic vulnerabilities and help them avoid chemicals or medications that might make them ill, the study reported.