Nav: Home

New approach for screening toxic chemicals mimics mammal senses

October 10, 2016

University of Leicester researchers have developed a new approach for analysing toxic chemicals in complex samples that mimics the way mammals smell and taste.

The technique could reduce the need for laboratory animals in biomedical research and other areas of chemical testing.

In the study a fluorescent assay combines a mixture of environmental-sensitive fluorescent dyes and human skin cells that generate fluorescence spectra patterns distinctive for particular physiological conditions.

Using multivariate data analysis, the optical signal is further processed, providing qualitative information and fast diagnostics.

The study was originally inspired by the operating principle of the electronic noses and tongues systems which mimic mammalian smell and taste recognition, combining semi-specific sensors and chemometric techniques for monitoring biochemical processes.

The Leicester Biotechnology Group at the University of Leicester has used similar principles, replacing electronic sensors with dyes array and applied them with human cells.

This combination has allowed transforming complex fluorescent spectra into a simple answer - whether the chemical compound is toxic or not.

While a digitized fluorescence image is a very high-dimensional vector - more than 250,000 numbers each - the number of tested chemicals is much less.

The researchers suggest the dimensionality reduction is the first task to overcome, with the challenge being how to transform the high dimension signal to a much lower dimension while keeping all important information safe.

Alexander Gorban, Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Leicester, said: "Firstly, we represented each signal by its projections on other signals. Secondly, we applied the classical and very popular model reduction method, Principal Component Analysis, and found five main components of the signals.

"Then we used dozens of various linear and nonlinear data analysis methods for the five-dimensional signals and validate the classifiers on the previously unseen data. Our approach can be considered as 'explicit deep learning', an explicit version of widely popularized (implicit) deep learning algorithms."

The results had high accuracy, with both specificity and sensitivity above 90 per cent.

Sergey Piletsky, Professor of Bioanalytical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester, commented: "The latest finding is a big step not only in toxicology, providing a modern, inexpensive and more efficient in vitro method but also in development of sensor assays for rapid quantification of a wide range of analytes which has always been a great challenge faced by analytical scientists.

"It can also reduce the need for laboratory animals in biomedical research, pharmaceutical industry, other areas of chemical testing and health diagnostics."

The research is supported by The Dr Hadwen Trust.

The paper 'Fluorescence-based assay as a new screening tool for toxic chemicals' published in the journal Scientific Reports is available here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep33922
-end-
Image available at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/d7d93qtrq0co2vf/AAAwcm3rpT--hH5G5Ls9-D20a?dl=0

University of Leicester

Related Biomedical Research Articles:

Advances in cryo-EM materials may aid cancer and biomedical research
Cryogenic-Electron Microscopy (cryo-EM) has been a game changer in the field of medical research, but the substrate, used to freeze and view samples under a microscope, has not advanced much in decades.
World-first program uncovers errors in biomedical research results
Just like the wrong ingredients can spoil a cake, so too can the wrong ingredients spoil the results in biomedical research.
Scientists poised to study reproducibility of Brazilian biomedical research
A project to assess the reproducibility of biomedical research in Brazil has been described today in the open-access journal eLife.
Transparency and reproducibility of biomedical research is improving
New research publishing Nov. 20 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology from Joshua Wallach, Kevin Boyack, and John Ioannidis suggests that progress has been made in key areas of research transparency and reproducibility.
Fitness tracker data can enhance biomedical research and personalized health
In a research article publishing February 27 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, Weng Khong Lim and colleagues from the SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Precision Medicine, Singapore, and the National Heart Centre Singapore show that wearable sensors are not only able to identify groups of volunteers with similar patterns of daily activity, but can also predict various markers of risk for cardiovascular diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
As private funding of biomedical research soars, new risks arise
Academic medical centers (AMCs) in the US are navigating an increasing shift in research funding from historic public funding (e.g., NIH) to private sources such as pharma and biotech companies, foundations, and charities, raising a host of new issues related to collaborative research models, intellectual property rights, and scientific and ethical oversight.
BGRF scientists co-publish research paper on blockchain & AI for biomedical applications
Biogerontology Research Foundation Chief Science Officer (CSO) co-authored the landmark paper in the journal Oncotarget on the convergence of blockchain and AI to decentralize and galvanize healthcare and biomedical research.
Promising new drug for Hep B tested at Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Research at the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) on the campus of Texas Biomedical Research Institute helped advance a new treatment now in human trials for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
Academic biomedical research community should take action to build resilience to disasters
The academic biomedical research community should improve its ability to mitigate and recover from the impacts of disasters, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Public funding research key to advancing biomedical innovation
A new paper co-authored by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health's Bhaven Sampat, PhD, shows that 30 percent of all NIH-funded grants produce research that is cited by a private-sector patent.
More Biomedical Research News and Biomedical Research Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.