Winners of Transform Tox Testing Challenge Stage 2

The scientists from NTP/NIEHS, NCATS, and EPA are using automated, high speed screening technologies called HTS or high-throughput screening assays to test rapidly whether some chemicals in use nowadays could affect the health of people. But, since the HTS assays don’t completely incorporate the chemical metabolism, they might miss chemicals, which are metabolized to a much toxic form.

To get that information, EPA launched Transform Tox Testing Challenge together with their partners. This asked the teams of scientists to make techniques to retrofit particular HTS assays to incorporate the processes that reflect on the ways how chemicals are metabolized and broken down by the body. After choosing some semi-finalists, EPA and their partners have chosen the winners for the second stage of the competition.

The winners have generated practical designs, which would bring everyone a step closer to turning existing, used commonly in the HTS assays into tests that would evaluate both metabolite and parent chemical effects in assay responses. Every winner received a prize of $100,000.

Some of the winners are:

  • Cleveland State University’s Dr. Moo-Yeal Lee and 3D MicroArray Inc.’s Rayton Gerald

They collaborated in the first and second stage of the competition. Dr. Lee has developed microarray 3D bioprinting technology. It is a high-precision, robotic, and cell printing tech manifested on the 384-pillar plate with a sidewall. To generate the predictive efficacy or toxicity data and to serve the world in vitro cell-based testing industry, the doctor and his group at the Cleveland State focused on developing 384PillarPlate, related toxicity assays, and bioprinted human tissues. This technology is suited to make small multicellular structures of tissue as well as multiplexed cell-based assays to discover drugs. The platform of the technology is flexible and robust.

  • Onexio Biosystems LLC’s Dr. Brian Johnson

He made the MICRO MT, which is a simple solution for Transforming Tox Testing Challenge. They used the natural metabolic activities of the cell lines of the human liver to mimic the way one’s body metabolizes chemicals in liver. It’s accomplished by the pending microtiter cell culture plates that are patented and allow high-throughput liver cell co-culture with the standard reporter assays.

  • University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute’s Dr. Lawrence Vernetti

He used the cryopreserved droplets of competent and encapsulated hepatocytes of human in the delivery system that could be thawed as required for insertion of the ongoing assay. An extra benefit to this format is providing researchers the flexibility for customizing delivery system with their active cells with the use of the equipment found in high throughput screening labs.

  • University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s Dr. Hongbing Wang

He created HPH or human primary hepatocyte target cell model through the use of the newly developed inverted system, which is co-culture and may be scaled up to HTS format, enabling the cell-based assays for screening to run in the environment that produces the relevant metabolites physiologically. Cultured HPH are known as one of the most practical and relevant models, which maintain capacity for the metabolism of drug through a variety of enzymes.

What You Should Know about Transform Tox Testing?

To spur advance predictive toxicology and innovation, the NTP partnered with other two organizations to launch Transform Tox Testing Challenge. In numerous chemicals shown to have toxicity, the mechanism of toxicity results from chemical breaking down during metabolism into much reactive metabolites, which are the similar chemical structures. The main goal of this challenge is to boost Tox21 bioassays through incorporating the capabilities of metabolism.

Among the thousands of chemicals used these days, only few have been completely assessed for possible health risks. Most of vitro high-through put screening assays used for testing chemicals for possible toxicity lack of metabolic competence. While the current technologies might help in filling this gap, such technologies aren’t adapted currently to let metabolic transformations in the HTS systems.

The challenge’s goal is to develop the practical design that’ll turn existing, which is used commonly in the vitro chemical screening assays into the tests competent enough to generate relevant metabolites physiologically within the HTS assays that are cell-based that would assess both the metabolite effects and parent chemical in the assay responses.

The successful design would provide information that could be used for evaluating and reviewing the HTS assay results and would ensure better transparency, quality data, and confidence in the assay results.

The Overview of the Competition

Transform Tox Testing Challenge basically has different stages with the prizes that are awarded as applicants advance to every stage. The US EPA or Environmental Protection Agency, NIH or National Institutes of Health, NTP or National Toxicology Program, NCATS or National Center for Advancing Transnational Sciences, nestled at NIEHS welcome every segment of academia, government, and industry including innovators, associations, and other enthusiasts who want to enter the said competition.

Only some chemicals used at present have enough data on toxicity to evaluate their possible health risks completely. Aside from that, there are other chemicals that are introduced into commerce yearly. With the use of the HTS assays with the metabolic competence, it would revolutionize the approach used for evaluating the safety of the chemicals and protect human health in a better way.

The organizers of Transform Tox Challenge are searching for some innovative technological solutions to retrofit such assays to enable both chemicals as well as their metabolite products to be assessed. They have the potential to transform the methods of chemical testing, making them much relevant to real live and effective in predicting the health effects.

The 2nd stage of this competition is open to the semi-finalists who have been given with the prize in Stage 1. The semi-finalists were asked to bring their designs into a reality through characterizing technically the system’s metabolic competence, meeting general performance level, and characterizing the system functionally in various pilot screens.

During the first stage of this competition, the semi-finalists have submitted the practical designs for how the HTS assays might be retrofitted to include the xenobiotic metabolic competence. There were ten submissions that were chosen as semi-finalists and invited to join the next level of the competition.

Transform Tox Testing Challenge – The Challenge for Better Human Health

The Transform Tox Testing Challenge is the brainchild of the National Toxicology program and its partner agencies that offered awards for innovative ideas that will be able to help in improving the current methods used for testing toxicity.

With a headquarter at National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Toxicology Program worked with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the Transform Tox Testing Challenge: Innovating for Metabolism. This aims to find and discover brand new methods that will incorporate chemical metabolism’s physiological levels into HTS or high throughput assays. Once this has been accomplished, researchers will get the help they need for more accurate assessment of the effects of different chemicals as well protect the human health better since HTS makes use of automated methods which allow for a rapid evaluation of a big number of chemicals for a particular form of biological activity.

The director of EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology, Dr. Russell Thomas, Ph.D. is an expert in research on more efficient and brand new ways of evaluating the safety of various chemicals, and specifically in the assessment of chemicals and how they affect human health.

There are three stages in the Transform Tox Testing Challenge wherein every stage has cash awards. An award of $500,000 awaits those who will be able to come up with ideas which can help improve the toxicity testing methods currently in use.

The concerned agencies have noted that some out of the thousands of those chemicals being used today have already been completely evaluated for their possible health effects. The existing HTS assays don’t totally integrate chemical metabolism, and this is why they might miss those chemicals which are metabolized to be in form that is more toxic once inside human body.

The very first stage was the one which called for the proposals. After that, as many as 10 of the submissions have been invited to proceed to the second stage. Here, the prototype development took place, and this was then followed by product testing stage.

The Transform Tox Testing Challenge requested the teams of scientist to come up with techniques that wi9ll retrofit the current HTS assays to include processes which will reflect how the chemicals are being broken down as well as metabolized inside human body. After semi-finalists were chosen in May 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency as well as its partners has chosen the winners for the second stage of the Transform Tox Testing Challenge.

The winners in the second stage have come up with practical designs which brings the world a step closer into transforming the commonly used and existing in vitro high throughput chemical screening assays to test which can evaluate the metabolite and parent chemical effects ion assay responses. The winners in the second stage were able to take home a cash prize of $100,000.

With the Transform Tox Testing Challenge, another breakthrough is made to further improve human health for the betterment of both the people and the environment.

Chemical Screening Made Better Through Transform Tox Testing Challenge

Numerous discoveries in the field of health and sciences have been made through the years. Each of these discoveries contributed to the betterment of the world and the people living in it. However, these discoveries are not 100 percent perfect just like their makers, and this is why the experts are continuously searching for ways to further improve the existing methods and discoveries, and make them better for the benefit of the modern generation, and the future generations to come. With this thought in mind, some of the concerned agencies come with a challenge that can help them make it possible to render remarkable and breakthrough changes that can bring advantages to the present and future generations.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, the NIH’s National Toxicology Program in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) launched the Transform Tox Testing Challenge which aimed to award as much as $1 million for the sake of improving the predictivity and relevance of the data being generated from the automated chemical screening technology which is being used for the purpose of testing toxicity.

Out of all those chemicals that are available and used these days, only a few of these were really completely evaluated for their possible health effects. The scientist from the agencies mentioned above are using HTS or high throughput screening for the evaluation of the possible effects on health of all those numerous chemicals being used today. This high throughput screening makes use of automated methods which allow for a bigger quantity of chemicals to be quickly evaluated for a certain kind of biological activity.

The existing HTS assays don’t totally incorporate the chemical metabolism and this is why they might miss those chemicals which can end up metabolized into a form that is more toxic once it gets inside the body. The Transform Tox Testing Challenge: Innovating for Metabolism has invited all the innovative thinkers to look for brand new ways for the incorporation of the physiological levels of the chemical metabolism to the HTS assays. It is expected to give researchers a hand in a more accurate assessment of the effects of different chemicals and offer better protection to human health.

The teams who joined the challenge competed in three stages to bag an award worth $1 million. In the first stage, the teams were asked to submit practical designs that can be fully implemented. Around 10 submissions were bound to bring home a prize of $10,000 each together with the invitation of continuing on to the second stage.

In the second stage, a prototype should be made to show the suggested idea in full action. Around 5 participants can receive as much as $100,000 each together with the invitation to continue on to the last stage. The last stage required a commercial viable technology or method that the EPA and its partners will test and demonstrate. As the result of this test, one participant gets to bring home as much as $400,000 for being able to come up with a device or method which will pave way for the creation of technologies to offer metabolic competence to the HTS assays.

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