Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


NEWGENERIS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 16320
Funded under: FP6-FOOD
Country: Netherlands

Prenatal toxin exposure links with childhood health

Increases in incidence of childhood leukaemias and immune disorders have led researchers to look at very early exposure to genotoxic chemicals in the environment. Newgeneris, an EU-funded project, has looked into prenatal and early life exposure to a range of toxins.
Prenatal toxin exposure links with childhood health
The Newgeneris research team focused on the identification of biomarkers to indicate exposure to toxic chemicals or their effects. Biomarkers were measured in blood from mothers and semen and blood from some fathers, as well as umbilical cord blood from the newborn.

In total, a quarter of a million mother-child cohorts were used including samples from a separate leukaemia study. This makes the Newgeneris study the largest of its kind ever conducted at the time of the project.

Newgeneris scientists also decided on the most relevant immunotoxic and genotoxic chemicals threatening food and health safety. The list included chemicals which had raised alarms previously in relation to human disease.

In addition to foetal, maternal and paternal exposure, the researchers studied transplacental perfusion to gather information on foetal exposure to chemicals in the uterus. Using lymphocytic gene expression and proteomics, the scientists studied and determined genetic pathways that predispose individuals to childhood cancers and childhood immune disorders. Genomics and studies of DNA repair also evaluated inter-individual differences in response to the chemicals.

Deterioration of samples can sometimes be a problem and the researchers made sure that conditions for storage and transport were carefully managed for reliable marker testing. Protocols for sample handling were drawn up and validated. White blood cells, for example, must be isolated, frozen and stored under stringent conditions.

Careful planning also went into sampling, data handling and analysis. Blood samples from children were pooled and the large size of the cohort facilitated this. Research protocols were devised for data sampling, warehousing and data storage.

Results indicate that effects of exposure to toxins go beyond exposure as adults or even children. There may well be important public health and ethical issues from in utero development as well as paternal input from sperm. Newgeneris data represents a highly substantial platform for further study of toxic chemicals found in the environment.

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