[rizzn’s note: This is mostly a personal note. I’m doing research into Dioxin contamination for a project I’m working on. Likely I’ll not ever use the scientific data, as my side of the project relates more to the business side, but it’s always good to do your homework.]
People throughout the world need and want a clean environment and a safe food supply. It is our hope that the research we do and the products that we sell help achieve that end.
Hybrizyme is developing an inexpensive test that measures the levels of dioxin-like chemicals. Currently, dioxin analysis costs range from $900 to $1,800 per sample and can only be performed in highly specialized laboratories. During a recent dioxin crisis in Belgium where citizens were exposed to dioxin-tainted meat, the need for low cost health assessment studies and environmental monitoring was clearly demonstrated. A cost-effective test also would enable scientists to expand research efforts to study the health effects of dioxins.
Dioxin is an unintended byproduct of a variety of processes including forms of chemical manufacturing, incineration of municipal garbage and medical waste, open burning and the manufacture of chlorine-bleached paper products. Exposure to certain dioxins in animals and humans has been associated with biochemical and toxicological effects. The EPA is currently conducting a major reassessment of dioxin service. EPA scientists are providing much of the
data needed to assist in the risk assessment.
Hybrizyme’s technology measures levels of dioxin compounds in a sample using a recombinant Ah receptor. The Ah receptor present in humans and animals mediates most, if not all, of the harmful effects associated with exposure to these compounds. Once in the body, dioxin-like compounds bind to Ah receptors and initiate a cascade of biochemical effects leading to toxicological consequences. How tightly or loosely these compounds bind to the Ah receptor is one of the determining factors of their toxicity.
Since the Belgian dioxin-chicken crisis in 1999, the kaolinitic clay contamination with dioxins and the citrus pulp contamination with dioxins, consumers’ concern exists about the safety of food. The key-contaminants causing the concerns in these crises were dioxins and PCBs.
These accidents revealed a need for continuous monitoring of the quality and safety of our food. However, currently there is not enough capacity within the European Union (EU) to measure dioxins in food and feed which is being fed to animals for agricultural products. Besides, the quality of the data produced by food control laboratories is sometimes limited due to the absence of a broad range of certified reference materials to check the quality of the data.
The DIFFERENCE project (Dioxins in Food and Feed – Reference Methods and New Certified Reference Materials) will focus on the development, optimisation and validation of alternative (screening) techniques for analysis. These techniques should allow a reliable, simple and low-cost determination of dioxins and PCBs in order to guarantee a widespread implementation throughout the EU.
Furthermore, the DIFFERENCE project aims at the production and testing of five candidate certified reference materials (milk product, meat, fish, fish oil and feed) which allow laboratories to improve the quality of the produced data.
The project has started at 1 February 2002 and will last for 36 months. The objectives of this project are outlined on this website as well as a glimpse on the obtained results. The website also covers background information (related info), relevant literature and possibilities to get in contact with the coordinator for more information.
An organism or cell in which genetic recombination has taken place or material produced by genetic engineering.