OPINION: ‘Omics’ and endocrine-disrupting chemicals — new paths forward

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Abstract

The emerging field of omics — large-scale data-rich biological measurements of the genome — provides new opportunities to advance and strengthen research into endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Although some EDCs have been associated with adverse health effects in humans, our understanding of their impact remains incomplete. Progress in the field has been primarily limited by our inability to adequately estimate and characterize exposure and identify sensitive and measurable outcomes during windows of vulnerability. Evolving omics technologies in genomics, epigenomics and mitochondriomics have the potential to generate data that enhance exposure assessment to include the exposome — the totality of the lifetime exposure burden — and provide biology-based estimates of individual risks. Applying omics technologies to expand our knowledge of individual risk and susceptibility will augment biological data in the prediction of variability and response to disease, thereby further advancing EDC research. Together, refined exposure characterization and enhanced disease-risk prediction will help to bridge crucial gaps in EDC research and create opportunities to move the field towards a new vision — precision public health.

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