European Institute of Oncology, IEO, in Milan, and Prof. Giuseppe Testa’s group is one of the EDC-MixRisk partners working at the nexus of interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Testa’s group has expertise in molecular biology, bioinformatics and social science. Within the framework of the EDC-MixRisk project, they work together to produce cutting edge-understanding of the adverse neurodevelopmental effects of exposure to EDC mixtures, and furthermore, help translate the work into regulatory meaningful arguments.

Recently, their experimental biology and bioinformatics work has been focusing on evaluating the impact of the EDC mixture associated (by the epidemiological module) to adverse developmental outcomes. To this end, the group has employed in vitro cellular models, including both fetal primary neural stem cells and cortical organoids, a tridimensional system able to recapitulate the human brain development. After exposing these models to the mixture of chemicals, advanced molecular and computational biology techniques were used to identify the key perturbed molecular events. Among the top dysregulated hits, genes known to be associated to autism spectrum disorders were discovered.

The social scientific work, in turn, not only draws on the work of experimental and computational biologists, but integrates with it. In this way, IEO has been able to produce mappings of the EU chemical regulatory field (public engagement, EU stakeholders and EU chemical regulations) and pinpoint areas where input from the project’s results will be most useful to mitigate EDC exposure risks. “This enables us to come to a more nuanced interpretive understanding of the relations between EDC exposure risks, governance and real-life contexts”, Dr. Testa concludes. The work continues at several fronts to confirm results and also publish the findings.