It’s estimated that there are approximately 80,000 industrial chemicals currently in use, in products such as clothing, cleaning solutions, carpets, and furniture.
It’s estimated that there are approximately 80,000 industrial chemicals currently in use, in products such as clothing, cleaning solutions, carpets, and furniture. For the vast majority of these chemicals, scientists have little or no information about their potential to cause cancer.
The detection of DNA damage in cells can predict whether cancer will develop, but tests for this kind of damage have limited sensitivity. A team of MIT biological engineers has now come up with a new screening method that they believe could make such testing much faster, easier, and more accurate.
The National Toxicology Program, a government research agency that identifies potentially hazardous substances, is now working on adopting the MIT test to evaluate new compounds.
“My hope is that they use it to identify potential carcinogens and we get them out of our environment, and prevent them from being produced in massive quantities,” says Bevin Engelward, a professor of biological engineering at MIT and the senior author of the study. “It can take decades between the time you’re exposed to a carcinogen and the time you get cancer, so we really need predictive tests. We need to prevent cancer in the first place.”
Read more at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Image: MIT biological engineers developed a test that can reveal high levels of DNA damage in human cells. CREDIT: Courtesy of the researchers