Instytut Biologii Medycznej PAN

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Research topics

"Fluorescent Cell Chip" for identification of immunotoxic and immunomodulatory compounds

Safety evaluation of novel compounds (chemicals, drugs, cosmetics, etc) is an important regulatory issue that interconnect politics, economy and science. Due to the new chemical safety regulation being now introduced in Europe around 30 000 chemicals will have to be tested to different extend for possible toxicity. To accomplish this task trying at the same time to reduce the use of laboratory animals requires development of new alternative toxicity tests. There are not only ethical but also economical reasons for implementing in vitro alternatives in safety evaluation as such methods could reduce the costs. Immune system is a very sensitive and specific network of cellular and humoral interactions that, when deregulated, causes severe pathological manifestations. Such deregulation could result from immunotoxic xenobiotic exposure. Detecting immunotoxicity associated with chemicals is complicated and requires a battery of tests that employ experimental animals. We coordinated the European research consortium (supported by EU grant QLK4-CT-2000-00787) that developed Fluorescent Cell Chip (FCC) a new technology for screening chemical compounds for immunotoxic and immunomodulatory activities in vitro. FCC is based on a panel of reporter cell lines that regulate the expression of a transgene coding for fluorescent protein in the same way as they regulate expression of cytokines. Consequently, changes in fluorescence intensity represent changes in cytokine expression with one cell line per cytokine. We have validated FCC by testing 70 chemicals of known effect on immune system in vivo. Resultant data showed that FCC detects immunotoxic and immunomodulatory activities of chemicals and could be employed in a uniform high throughput system for screening tousends of compounds.