Research team

Toxicological Centre

A digital concept for reporting back personal human biormonitoring results to participants (REPORT-BACK 2.0) 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

Feasibility study and preparation of a community-based concept for the digital reporting-back of personal human biomonitoring results to individual participants in human biomonitoring campaigns that measure environmental exposure.

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Centre of Expertise for Environment & Health (2016-2020) 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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    Gene expression profiling reveals potential biomarkers for early detection of DNA damage. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2016

    Abstract

    Increased levels of DNA damage and ineffective repair mechanisms are the underlying bio-molecular events in the pathogenesis of most of the life-threatening diseases like cancer. During puberty, a period in which the body undergoes many different cellular and molecular changes, alterations in DNA may have a significant impact on disease development later in life e.g. cancer, reproductive and endocrine system effects, respiratory diseases, etc. The current PhD research was part of the Flemish Policy Centre for Environment and Health, and has a twofold objective. First of all, we want to identify the impact of environmental chemicals on DNA damage in Flemish adolescents. We saw that various environmental contaminantswith known carcinogenic potential (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, chromium, etc.) present in the environment of youngsters (FLEHS III) were associated with short-term DNA damage, assessed by the alkaline comet assay and urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG). These associations show that the current DNA damage assays are sensitive and predictive markers for transient DNA damage in Flemish youngsters. Also chemicals with insufficient human toxicity data available, such as phthalates, correlated with systemic oxidative stress (8-OHdG) in both FLEHS II and FLEHS III adolescent cohorts. In the second part of this work associations between traditional biomarkers of DNA damage and gene expression changes were studied in two independent population studies (PAH-study and FLEHS I-study) consisting of adult members of the general Flemish population. Using multiple regression analyses, we identified genes whose expression was significantly correlated with DNA damage assessed by the micronucleus assay. Four micronuclei-related genes (CAPN12, RAC1, TP73 and VEGFA) were selected for confirmation of their differential expression in a third study population (FLEHS III), namely in 14- and 15-year old adolescents. The micronuclei-related change in RAC1 expression could be confirmed in boys. Further, RAC1 and VEGFA were significantly associated with the alkaline comet assay in the adolescent population, and CAPN12 and TP73 were significantly associated with the comet assay, but again only in boys. We suggest that the identified genes should be further explored to reveal more insights in the pathways of DNA damage caused by the Flemish environment as measured by the traditional bioassays.

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      Research on the training and specialization of professionals of environmental medicine in the health sector. 01/04/2013 - 31/10/2013

      Abstract

      Elaboration of a project on the training and awareness of practitioners in the field of environmental medicine and environmental health. The project has been proposed with the support of the Mixed Interministerial Conference on Environment and Health (CIMES- GICLG) and the framework of the second National Environmental and Health Action Plan (NEHAP 2009-2013). The project, approved by the CIMES-GICLG, has been defined according to the action 10 of the EU action plan on environment and health (2004-2010) and the paragraph 18 of the WHO declaration at Budapest in 2004. The objectives and targets of the project aim to: - Provide recommendations for the (feasibility) implementation of environmental health in education for all medical professionals, including new students and already qualified professionals. - Provide recommendations about the need for tools or instruments to support medical professionals in their practice on environmental health/medicine. - Provide recommendations about the curriculum content at different levels of training, including nurses and mid-wives.

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      Centre of Expertise for Environment & Health (2012-2015) 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2015

      Abstract

      The Centre of Expertise 2012-2015 is an inter-university consortium of research teams, specialized in environmental health. A broad spectrum of scholars cooperate in specific and long term research projects: toxicologists, physicians, epidemiologists and sociologists. This 3th generation center focusses on the (reference) human biomonitoring of three age groups at the one hand, representative for Flanders and the comparative human biomonitoring of hot spot areas on the other (Gentse Kanaalzone). The group of prof. Loots takes the lead for the science-policy nexus, risk communication and risk governance. Techniques are developed to open up the scientific research design and the group results for concerned parties and to encourage citizens and stakeholders to get involved (beyond study participation). Also social diversity and environmental justice are on the research agenda: not only in the data-analysis, also an additional recruitment strategy is experimented.

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      Search for biomarkers for asthma and airway allergies in non-invasive matrices. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2012

      Abstract

      Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that is common in young children. For the moment diagnosis of this disease is not possible under the age of 6. This project focuses for new biomarkers for asthma that can be detected in non-invasive matrices. To accomplish this, differential analysis of proteins will be assessed in saliva, nasal lavage fluid and exhaled breath condensate in asthma patients and healthy controls. Because of the non-invasive way of sampling, a diagnostic test based on the new biomarkers can be used on children, but is also more ethical for adults.

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        Neurotoxicity of chemicals during embryonic development: detection via alternative methods. 15/10/2009 - 14/10/2013

        Abstract

        This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VITO. UA provides VITO research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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          An integrated approach for testing the sensitized potency of substances. 01/10/2009 - 31/12/2015

          Abstract

          This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VITO. UA provides VITO research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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            Molecular biomonitoring for exposure to neurotoxic environmental pollutants. 01/10/2008 - 12/01/2013

            Abstract

            This project will contribute to a better characterization of the toxicological response of environmental pollutants with transcriptomics. A special emphasis will be put on the induction of neurological damage. It is envisioned that the approach will provide a better understanding of the mechanism of action of environmental contaminants. Furthermore, the project may provide valuable information for developing a molecual biomarker panel indicative for neurological damage. Such a panel may hold potential for future research projects, epidemiological and/or clinical studies.

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              Development of an in vitro test-system for sensitisation. 01/09/2006 - 31/08/2010

              Abstract

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                Development of a noninvasive biomarker of respiratory toxicity by proteome analysis of exhaled breath condensate. 01/10/2004 - 30/09/2008

                Abstract

                The prevalence of asthma is increasing, especially in children. The exact cause is not known yet, but it may be due to a complex interaction between genetic constitution, life style factors, air pollution and smoking. A better knowledge of the early biological effects may be helpful to identify the relative contribution of risk factors to the disease. Biomarkers of early effects need to be developed . Preferentially these markers should be non-invasive in order to apply them in children and to use them in large scale human biomonitoring studies to evaluate the relation between environmental factors and airway damage. Invasive methods (bronchalveolar lavage, sputum, blood) are being used already in the search for biomarkers. In this project we will make use of exhaled breath condensate ( EBC) to develop a non-invasive testmethod. Biological active molecules have been detected already in EBC. Some of them could be linked to the airway status. The first aim in this project is to optimize the collection of exhaled breath condensate. The second aim is to identify biomarkers for airway inflammation and oxidative stress in this condensate. Because of the complexity of these processes and their interaction in asthma, more than one biologic molecule may be of interest. Proteome analysis will be used to investigate the protein pattern of exhaled air. Proteome analysis is the most powerful technique to detect in a very fast way changes in the protein profile. Two dimensional gel electrophoresis, liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry are some of the techniques that will be used. Proteins that are differentially expressed in the exhaled air of smokers and non smokers will be selected. Further.steps will include research on the reproducibility of the selected candidate biomarkers , on simple and fast detection techniques and on the applicability in children. .

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