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EnviroGenomarkers: New generation of biomarkers to study environmental agents in human disease

EnviroGenomarkers, the European project related to a new generation of biomarkers(-omics) for the study of the role of environmental agents in human disease, organised its first official Project Management Board meeting on 29 September, in Athens.

20 scientists, members of the board, discussed, among others, about the first laboratory results of a pilot study based on biobank samples and clinical trials, and the next steps for the main study in laboratories. EnviroGenomarkers aims at the development and application of a new generation of biomarkers, based on–omics technologies, to study the environmental aetiology of human disease. Theses technologies are used in a relatively large population study, and aim at the: a) discovery and validation of novel biomarkers predictive of increased risks of chronic diseases in which the environment may play an important role (breast cancer, Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, childhood diseases including allergy, neurological and immune diseases, thyroid disruption), b) exploration of the association of such risk biomarkers with exposure to a number of high-priority or emerging environmental pollutants with carcinogenic, immunotoxic or hormone-like properties, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PBCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cadmium, lead, phthalates, brominated flame retardants (polybrominated biphenyls), ambient air pollutants and water treatment byproducts, and c) discovery and validation of biomarkers of exposure to the above environmental pollutants. Following the kick-off meeting of the project (Athens, 9-10 March), the partners discussed about the pilot study, which is expected to be completed soon, and the subsequent main study, mainly the flow of samples in laboratories, the criteria for samples selection, the procedures of their flow as well as the data warehousing and bioinformatics for the statistical analysis. The samples to be analysed come from three biobanks, EPIC/Italy, Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study/Umea and Rhea/Crete. The project gathers together 11 research institutions from 6 countries (Finland, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and United Kingdom) and is coordinated by the National Hellenic Research Foundation. It is co-funded by the 7th Framework Programme and the total budget reaches 4.7 million euros.The Coordinator of the project, Dr S. Kyrtopoulos, underlines that “the research results will, not only, reinforce the scientific basis for the risk assessment of the human exposure to the above mentioned factors, but also support policy initiatives for the protection of health in relation to environment. These technologies favour an integrated approach in the field of environmental health and can lead to the discovery of early maturing cell changes, serving as risk indicators for future disease". More information: Dissemination Officer Dr Maria Botsivali National Hellenic Research Foundation Tel: 210 7273784, e-mail:


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