Making sense of Omics

19th annual CEFIC-LRI workshop

Every year the European Chemical Industry Council organizes the CEFIC-LRI workshop. This year, I visited the 19th edition of this workshop which was entitled ‘making sense of omics’. Besides the thematic session on ‘omics’ an overview of running CEFIC projects and the LRI Innovative Science Award were presented.

How to deal with chemical mixtures?

The winner of the LRI Innovative Science Award (Dr. Spyros Karakitsios) presented his awarded project idea on the development of an integrative framework for assessing the adverse effects of chemical mixtures (heavy metals and plasticizers) on neurodevelopment. The proposed combination of different disciplines (epidemiology, exposure modeling, human biomonitoring, PBK modeling, and in vitro toxicology) is ambitious but possibly required to provide new insights in the complex issue of mixture toxicology that, at present, we do not know well how to deal with. We need to keep an eye on these developments, since these are of importance for chemical water quality assessment as well.

Making sense of omics

During the thematic session of the workshop the use of omics techniques in toxicology was discussed. Last year’s LRI-award winner Dr. Wibke Busch from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research showed that for a sound interpretation of transcriptomics data, knowledge on the toxicodynamic processes is required, since these partly determine (the magnitude of) a chemical’s effect on gene expression. Prof.dr. Aldert Piersma from the RIVM indicated that omics data can be used to better understand human biology and with that to better understand how chemicals can interfere with important processes. This knowledge can be used to feed Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) frameworks which are based on knowledge of the chemical’s mode of action, and to design relevant (in vitro) test systems. Finally, dr. Hennicke Kamp from BASF discussed on the importance of performing omics studies in a GLP setting, which is required to use such data for regulatory purposes.

An important questions for us is whether we can use omics techniques for chemical water quality assessment. So far, bioassays are used for chemical water quality assessment that capture specific modes of action. However, to cover the ‘mode-of-action-space’ of all chemicals relevant for water, several bioassays would be required. With omics technologies different modes of action may be captured using a single bioassay and therefore I think it makes sense to (further) explore the possibilities of applying omics technologies in chemical water quality assessment.