Which chemical compounds disrupt metabolic processes in the body?
January 2019 saw the launch of the EU research project EDCMET, in which scientists from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) are also involved. EDCMET stands for "Metabolic effects of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: novel testing METhods and adverse outcome path-ways" and is aimed at developing methods to identify chemical compounds that disrupt metabolic processes in the body.
At the same time, the research project will also be pinpointing biochemical mechanisms that trigger these disruptions. "The identification of these kinds of endocrine disruptors and their impact on bodily functions is a central aspect of the risk assessment of chemicals", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, "and the reliable detection of these effects using validated methods therefore plays an essential role in drawing up legal regulations."
In the context of the research project EDCMET, the researchers at the BfR will use cell culture systems and animal models to explore how chemicals affect fat and energy metabolism in liver cells. The aim of the EU project is to develop and validate test systems to the stage where they are suitable for the routine testing of chemicals in the field of regulatory toxicology.
Endocrine disruptors is the name given to compounds that disrupt the hormone-controlled signal pathways and negatively impact health. These substances are also suspected of involvement in the development of metabolic diseases such as obesity, fatty liver, high cholesterol levels in the blood and diabetes. There has been very little research conducted to date as to whether and by what route endocrine disruptors influence these metabolic processes. Consequently, no validated methods exist for the assessment of their metabolic effect.
The aim of the EU research project EDCMET is to develop validated in silico, in vitro and in vivo methods for the evaluation of the metabolic effects of endocrine disruptors. Experts from different disciplines are using a wide range of techniques, ranging from computer-assisted calculation methods, and cell culture systems to current animal models and the analysis of epidemiological data. Research will focus on energy and fat metabolism in terms of the path by which the receptors of the cells regulate these processes through their interaction with foreign substances.
EDCMET is being funded as part of the EU's Horizon 2020 research programme (Grant Agreement No. 825762). It is one of the eight projects in the area of "new testing and screening methods for the identification of chemicals with endocrine effects". The EDCMET project involving scientific establishments from eight EU countries is coordinated by the A.I. Virtanen Institute of the University of Eastern Finland. In addition to conducting experimental work, the BfR will organise and coordinate the communication of scientific findings for expert circles, the national and international regulatory authorities, the stakeholders and the public at large.