“‘Contact tracing’ system for environmental chemical exposures”

HERCULES researchers have developed a system for generating “xenobiotic metabolites” – the breakdown products – from environmental chemicals, so that they can be analyzed on a large scale. Potentially, the system could be used to establish how chemicals are metabolized and distinguish who has been exposed and how much, even if the original chemical is not present in the body anymore.

“This system allows us to identify the presence of chemicals based on their downstream biotransformation products,” says lead author Ken Liu, PhD, senior scientist in the Clinical Biomarkers Laboratory at Emory University School of Medicine. “Many of the downstream biotransformation products cannot be purchased and otherwise could not be confidently identified.”

The research, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, was a collaboration supported by a grant from the NIH Common Fund’s Metabolomics program and by Emory’s HERCULES Exposome Research Center, both funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Read the full story by Quinn Eastman in the Emory News Center.

Photo courtesy of Ken Liu.