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Microbial assay for toxicological risk assessment

The project addresses the need for improved toxicity assays
for better risk assessment to reduce the number of animals
used to test toxins and toxic effects. These assays will be
developed as kits for commercial availability.

There is increasing pressure to develop alternative toxicity assays to reduce the number of animals used to test for toxins and toxic effects. This is an EU research priority (5th Framework Qol and Environment). Animal tests are also very expensive, requiring large, specialised facilities. Bacteria would seem to be ideal substitutes for use in toxicity assays. They can integrate the effects of complex toxins quickly and individual strains can be very sensitive to specific toxins allowing accurate quantification of toxin levels. They are cheap and cause no ethical problems in their application. Being small, very many individuals can be used in a single text, thus reducing confounding problems caused by genetic variability. Assays using single microbial species are available (particularly for use in ecotox, e.g. MICROTOX). Multiple strain assays dramatically increase the information content of the assays loading to increased risk assessment and allow many more sophisticated analyses than are possible with single strains. PHPLATE MICROPLATE TECHNIQUES AB was the lead SME proposer of an EU CRAFT project involved with the development of a microplate array assay for marine ecotox that used multiple bacterial strains. This established the proof of concept for the use of multiple strains. We now wish to build upon the technologies developed during that project by adapting them for wider applications. Our aim is to use the same general assay system but change the specific application for which it is used by using different mixtures of strains within the array. We will screen much larger numbers of bacterial strains to build a database of their relative sensitivities. This database will then be used to deliver tailor-made assays using optimized assemblages of strains. We also need to engineer the system components so that the improved flexibility is matched by an increase in customer usability. The specific technological objectives of the MATRA project are: * select a large cohort of bacterial strains for screening on the basis of known characteristics for use in assays (e.g. ease of lyophilisation, appropriate metabolism); * screen bacterial strains for their sensitivities to a defined range of toxins; * build a database of these strains and develop software to interrogate the database to produce 'best-fit' assemblages of strains for particular usage. This will involve the selection of both sensitive and insensitive strains; * develop carrier systems for transport and reliable resuscitation of strain assemblages prior to assay use; * integrate system components to enable an easy-to-use kit to be manufactured. The project is planned to run for two years by which time we will have developed a MATRA prototype suitable for marketing. Keywords: microbial assay, toxicity, in vitro.
Project ID: 
2 505
Start date: 
23-10-2000
Project Duration: 
71months
Project costs: 
1 030 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Toxicology
Market Area: 
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