John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


New technologies in environmental toxicology: Rationale and applications Volume 5, issue 6, Novembre-Décembre 2006


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Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm), Unité mixte de recherche (UMR) S 747, 45, rue des Saints Pères, 75270 Paris 06, Université Paris Descartes, Centre des Saints Pères, 45, rue des Saints Pères, 75270 Paris 06, Hôpital européen Georges Pompidou, 20 rue Leblanc, 75015 Paris
  • Key words: dioxins, environmental pollutants, genomics, proteomics, technology, toxic actions, toxicogenetics, toxicology
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2006.0014
  • Page(s) : 477-88
  • Published in: 2006

Environmental toxicology seeks to determine the mechanisms that make pollutants toxic, to identify new biomarkers, and ultimately to establish reliable systems to predict the toxicity of chemical compounds. Recent technological breakthroughs have produced significant progress towards these goals, with large-scale studies of gene structure and expression: high-throughput genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic analyses of various components of cells and organisms. The rationale for these techniques is that many toxicants can alter gene expression considerably by activating a number of identified receptors and many others directly target DNA and proteins. Techniques in structural biology have determined the structure of several proteins involved in responses to toxic compounds. These various approaches have made it possible to discover new mechanisms of toxic action, and many toxicologists hope that they will increase our predictive capacity, particularly through the implementation of systems biology and in silico methods in this field. Other technologies are also proving useful. Beyond the characterization of new cellular models, the generation of humanized animals should improve the relevance of animal models in the study of human toxicity.