Université Sorbonne-Paris-Cité (USPC) (the community of universities) and the EHESP have come together to create a Chair dedicated to the study of the exposome. This Chair, which will receive 3-years’ financing, is set up at the LERES – Laboratory for environment and health studies and research, an analytical chemistry R&D platform of the IRSET – Research institute for environmental and occupational health (UMR 1085) and of the USPC.
Arthur David, specialist in metabolomics and PhD in environmental chemistry, holds the chair. Visit its personal home page
A research assistant has recently joined the team.
The objective of this chair is to provide, at population level, new knowledge on exposure to organic pollutants during the prenatal period, and to contribute to understanding the mechanisms of action of these contaminants.
In order to meet this objective, the 1st step consists of implementing and developing new sensitive and robust untargeted analytical methods, adapted to human biological matrices (blood, placenta, amniotic fluid etc.) which can be applied to epidemiological studies (of which mother-child cohorts) in order to identify the relevant contaminant mixtures. New tools relying on these non-targeted methods will also be developed in order to study the mechanisms of action of the contaminant mixtures identified.
The recently developed exposome concept, refers to the study of the totality of all human environmental (non-genetic) exposures from conception onwards.
It is today recognised that the external and internal environments (food, pollution, intestinal microbiome, drugs and hygiene products, radiation and stress etc.) play an important role in the state of our health, and can contribute to the onset of non-transmissible diseases in humans (cancer, metabolic diseases and obesity, reproductive disorders and allergies etc.). Humans are exposed to complex chemical substance mixtures especially resulting from human activity (biocides, detergents, hygiene products and drugs, plasticisers and solvents etc.). Some of these substances have confirmed biological effects likely to have an impact on human health, such as endocrine disruptors.
In order to characterise our chemical exposome, it is therefore necessary to develop new holistic methods taking the highest number of compounds possible into account.
Metabolomics for deciphering the chemical exposome
In parallel with the emergence of the exposome concept, major progress has recently been made in the field of analytical chemistry. It is now possible to use non-targeted analytical methods based on high-resolution mass spectrometry to identify, without any preconceived ideas, contaminant mixtures that accumulate in biological matrices and, at the same time, study the changes in the endogenous metabolite profiles.
These innovative test techniques thus offer unprecedented opportunities for deciphering the chemical exposome by identifying the totality of the contaminants to which we are exposed, along with their related effects.
Prenatal vulnerability window
In order to more effectively study and understand the risks to health, the exposome concept needs to be understood from a dynamics viewpoint.
The period in utero is a critical stage of development, as the foetus is extremely vulnerable to prenatal exposure (nutritional imbalance, pollutants, mother’s stress etc.) which can cause visible effects from birth (genital malformations) or effects occurring in the longer term (development of allergies or asthma, neurological disorders etc.).
Latest news from the chair
Raghad Al-Salhi – PhD in metabolomics, University of Sussex – joined the team Chair as a Post-doctoral researcher in metabolomics to characterize the chemical exposome (from october 2017 to February 2019).
A thesis on Non-targeted analytical developments to characterize the “chemical exposome” of human biological matrices will start on 1st October 2018 as part of the Public Health Doctoral Network.
The Chair of excellence for the study of the human chemical exposome (USPC-EHESP) relies on a number of partnerships developed with the epidemiologists, toxicologists and biologists at the IRSET and the USPC.