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News

Caliper Life Sciences contracted by US EPA for ToxCast screening programme

Caliper Life Sciences : 20 August, 2008  (Company News)
Caliper Life Sciences has received a $1.1 million task order under the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ToxCast screening programme.
The task order was issued following a contract that Caliper was awarded by the EPA in April 2007 under the ToxCast programme. The contract provides for up to $69 million of screening services throughout five years, although the specific dollar value is subject to the actual volume of testing requested by the EPA as well as continued government funding for the ToxCast programme. To date, Caliper has received task orders under this EPA contract totalling approximately $3.6 million, including the new $1.1million task order. This new task order was anticipated and the work associated with this order is expected to be substantially completed during the third quarter of 2008.

Caliper works with the EPA under the ToxCast initiative to develop new approaches to identify chemical compounds that are potentially toxic to the environment. Caliper uses in vitro biochemical assays, which have been validated in the pharmaceutical drug discovery industry, to help predict how chemicals like pesticides will interact with the environment, humans and animals. During the initial phase, Caliper tested 320 well-known chemicals through more than 230 in vitro assays. The new task order will support further screening of this initial set of 320 compounds.

Once the first phase of the ToxCast programme is complete, the EPA is expected to begin screening a broader class of compounds to expand the database of bioactivity signatures developed in the first phase. Based on these efforts, the ToxCast screening programme will provide the EPA with an efficient tool for rapidly and efficiently screening compounds and prioritising further toxicity testing. The ultimate goal is to identify a set of predictive in vitro assays that can supplement or replace in vivo tests currently used for regulatory approval of new environmental chemicals.

'Caliper's test results from the initial phase of the ToxCast screening programme provided high quality data and demonstrated a substantial number of positive results, or 'hits,' that may have potential relevance to environmental toxicity or adverse effects. With this new funding, we will expand our testing to determine the potency, or concentration response, of these bioactivities using all 230 of the initial assays,' said David Manyak, PhD, executive vice president of discovery services at Caliper Life Sciences. 'This follow-up screening is an important step in the progress of the ToxCast programme. We look forward to continuing our research efforts and supporting the EPA's efforts to better understand the impact, and minimise the threat, of environmental contaminants.'

Earlier in 2008, the EPA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a collaboration intended to broaden the scope of the ToxCast screening programme beyond the EPA, further emphasising the growing national significance of this initiative. Caliper was selected and will present the methodology and validated results of a series of toxicology-related cell-based assays at the National Toxicology Program's Request for Information Meeting, to be held on September 11 to 12, 2008, in North Carolina.

The event is sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the two lead agencies within National Institutes of Health (NIH) spearheading the collaboration with EPA.
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