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An Integrated Approach Using Publicly Available Resources for Identifying and Characterizing Chemicals of Potential Toxicity Concern: Proof-of-Concept With Chemicals That Affect Cancer Pathways.


We developed an integrated, modular approach to predicting chemical toxicity relying on in vitro assay data, linkage of molecular targets to disease categories, and software for ranking chemical activity and examining structural features (chemotypes). We evaluate our approach in a proof-of-concept exercise to identify and prioritize chemicals of potential carcinogenicity concern. We identified 137 cancer pathway-related assays from a subset of U.S. EPA's ToxCast platforms. We mapped these assays to key characteristics of carcinogens and found they collectively assess 5 of 10 characteristics. We ranked all 1061 chemicals screened in Phases I and II of ToxCast by their activity in the selected cancer pathway-related assays using Toxicological Prioritization Index software. More chemicals used as biologically active agents (eg, pharmaceuticals) ranked in the upper 50% versus lower 50%. Twenty-three chemotypes are enriched in the top 5% (n = 54) of chemicals; these features may be important for their activity in cancer pathway-related assays. The biological coverage of the ToxCast assays related to cancer pathways is limited and short-term assays may not capture the biology of some key characteristics. Metabolism is also minimal in the assays. The ability of our approach to identify chemicals with cancer hazard is limited with the current input data, but we expect that our approach can be applied with future iterations of ToxCast and other data for improved chemical prioritization and characterization. The novel approach and proof-of-concept exercise described here for ranking chemicals for potential carcinogenicity concern is modular, adaptable, and amenable to evolving data streams.

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