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Expression Analysis Lands $27M EPA ToxCast Contract

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Expression Analysis has netted a $27 million contract from the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate toxicology-related RNA biomarkers for a set of up to 12,100 compounds in 121,100 biological samples being reviewed under EPA's ToxCast program, EA said today.

The ToxCast effort is aimed at measuring the toxicity of the chemical compounds and creating a genomic database using PCR assays, gene expression microarrays, and transcriptome sequencing.

Durham, NC-based EA said it will perform bioinformatic and statistical analyses to ensure that the end-point data that is entered into the ToxCast database accurately represent the biology of the sample and are not distorted by assay artifacts or batch-related effects.

"Our role is to provide reproducible end-point data for the EPA's toxicologists who are the primary investigators for ToxCast," Wendell Jones, VP of bioinformatics and statistics at EA, said in a statement. "The integrity of genomic data for this long-term study is crucial. ToxCast has the potential to greatly enhance the EPA's ability to predict the toxicity of various chemicals as well as prioritize the chemicals for rigorous toxicity testing."

Under the contract, EPA's National Center for Computational Toxicology will review standard operating protocols for every assay performed and will audit EA's CLIA-certified facilities.

Since it launched in 2007, existing ToxCast initiatives have profiled around 2,000 chemicals found in a wide range of sources, such as consumer products, pesticides, food additives, products advertised as 'green,' and nanomaterials and drugs that are not yet on the market.

EA provides genome sequencing, gene expression, genotyping, and bioinformatics services to government agencies, diagnostic test developers, biopharma firms, and academic labs.