Activities and facilities
Predictive Toxicology & Informatic systems
We development, assess and apply computational (in silico) methods. For example:
- Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) models can be used to obtain information on the properties and activities of substances from chemical structure alone, and can thus be used to fill data gaps in the safety assessment of chemicals;
- Physiologically Based Biokinetic (PBBK) Modelling can be used to extrapolate between in vitro and in vivo exposure conditions, thereby helping to establish the relevance of data generated by in vitro toxicity tests.
We also develop and maintain a number of chemical databases and information systems. These are used to manage, query and evaluate data obtained from our own scientific projects as well as to disseminate data and information to researchers, the general public and all stakeholders with an interest in the safe use of chemicals. Furthermore, we create data reporting templates to be used by a global community when reporting their findings (especially derived from alternative methods) to regulatory authorities. Read more...
The High Throughput Screening (HTS) facility
It consists of two comprehensive robotic platforms
supported by ample cell culturing and compound management laboratories. The
robotic platform is a flexible, modular, specialised system for the full
automation of a wide variety of cell-based and biochemical assays. The core
component of the platform is a high throughput liquid handler capable of
accurate and repeatable sample preparation, serial dilution and test-plate
treatment. Ancillary instrumentation essential in standard HTS assays, such as an
optical plate reader, a plate washer and an on-line incubator are accessible by
a robotic arm. The flexible and modular design of the platform allows the
integration of additional equipment such as an automated imaging microscope for
High Content Screening (HCS). Read more...
The compound management activity
This system is designed to fully integrate our testing
facility and in particular to support the high demand of prepared,
ready-to-test samples needed for automated in-vitro testing. A state-of-the-art “drug discovery” data
management system is also linked to the
facility to ensure reliable treatment and traceability of test data. It
provides the ability to record comprehensive chemical information together with
the associated HTS biological and analytical data, offering consistent and
traceable chemical and biological data management and analysis.
The cell culture laboratory
This laboratory ensure the continuous
provision of biological samples for automated testing. Its is located in a
positive-pressure room fully equipped for preparation and maintenance of cell
cultures in a safe and sterile environment. Standard operating procedures are
implemented to ensure the continuous production of consistent high-quality biological
Read more on the EURL ECVAM GLP facility.
Areas of activity
It is important to have effective methods for testing the safety of chemicals in relation to endocrine disruption. The JRC-IHCP provides scientific analytical support to the initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment to improve the assessment criteria of the endocrine disrupting properties of chemicals.
Assessing the risks posed by chemicals is a long and complex process. Scientists at the Institute work to devise a combination of computer methods, automated laboratory in vitro test and human bio-monitoring, which would help predict the toxicity of chemicals. In this manner, hazardous substances could be profiled and prioritised for further testing, thereby speeding up the application of the most appropriate regulatory measures. Read more..
See also: a general introduction to Improved Safety Assessment of Chemicals without relying on Animal Testing in JRC-IHCP.
a) HCI system (High Content Imaging) with operator. JRC-IHCP, Assay Technologies and HTS. Copyright EU 2010
b) Cell culturing lab operator. JRC-IHCP, Assay Technologies and HTS. Copyright EU 2010