Importance of Identifying Environmental Toxins in Product Manufacturing

Each day we face exposure to a wide array of environmental chemicals. These chemicals can be found just about anywhere — in the air, in food and drink, and in everyday household products as well as many cosmetics. There is growing evidence linking exposure to hazardous chemicals in the environment at critical time periods in a woman’s life and increased risk for developing breast cancer in later years.

Tragically, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women throughout the United States and Europe. Environmental factors contribute to more than 70% of breast cancer risk which includes exposure to chemicals. These chemicals have been found to damage DNA, causing unrestricted cell growth, changing the way the breast develops, promoting tumor growth, and leaving the cells more vulnerable to carcinogens. Other chemicals are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which interfere with the way the human body’s hormones work. As their name suggests, EDCs disrupt the endocrine system. They can change how breasts develop, for example, make breast tissue denser, and make it hard for babies to get the nourishment they need through breastfeeding. EDCs can also increase the risk for breast cancer. In fact, research in humans and animals links many EDCs to alterations in breast tissue and breast cancer. The risk posed by chemicals can be amplified among those with inherited genetic risk of developing breast cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control monitors levels more than 400 chemicals in human samples, but is a small fraction of the total number in the environment. Identifying possible harmful effects of these common chemicals is challenging, costing manufacturers a significant amount of time and resources. Furthermore, chemicals that are harmful to one individual may be of minimal risk to another. HistoSpring has developed cell-based tools from diverse individuals and can provide screens to identify potential environmental toxins before the start of production.

How HistoSpring Testing Works
HistoSpring has created immortalized, normal breast cell lines, which means we created a line of healthy breast tissue cells that can live forever. Highly-trained technicians expose these cell lines to chemicals, then monitor the cells for changes associated with breast cancer. The cell panel includes those with inherited mutations in genes linked to breast cancer susceptibility (e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53). Cells are grown in 96-well plates allowing testing of a variety of chemicals and concentrations simultaneously. Live-imaging of cells allows proliferation, death and senescence of cells to be monitored continuously over time. It also reveals which chemicals cause cells to develop DNA damage and genetic instability. Cells are engineered to express estrogen receptors to also detect alterations caused by EDCs.

The services offered by HistoSpring are incredibly unique. Not only can they test how specific chemicals can affect the population as a whole, but they can also determine if a subset of individuals may be susceptible to the ill effects from exposure to a chemical. HistoSpring can help clients with individualized biomarkers as well as effects of drugs and determine the concentration at which a chemical becomes hazardous.

By testing chemicals on the cell lines provided by HistoSpring, companies can mitigate risk before their product hits the production line. Because time is a valuable commodity in most industries, results are available in weeks, not months.

For more information about environmental chemical toxicity exposure, contact HistoSpring’s team of experts.