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An Investigation into the origin of steroids found in molluscs - CB0485

Molluscs are an ecologically important group of organisms in aquatic ecosystems, as well as having major economic importance as shellfisheries. Molluscs are also adversely impacted by chemicals in the environment as evidenced by the fact that the OECD is supporting the development and validation of a test guideline for reproductive toxicity assessment in molluscs (with Defra co-funding).

In this context, it has been suggested by some researchers (particularly in the UK) that molluscs may be a suitable replacement for vertebrates for the testing of chemicals with oestrogenic and (anti-)androgenic properties. This suggestion has potential clear advantages for funders and regulators as experiments using molluscs do not require Home Office approval and would thus be far cheaper than those involving fish and mammals.
The combined benefits stemming from the proposal are multifaceted. Firstly, the research has the potential to save significant sums of money by addressing the issue of poor science. Much research has been funded on the potentially erroneous search for an invertebrate test for vertebrate-type endocrine disrupters. There are also serious future EU economic and policy implications of chemicals being erroneously classified as endocrine disrupters through the assumption that vertebrate-type endocrine disrupters occur in molluscs. Secondly, the proposed work will provide evidence for the bioaccumulation and potential depuration rate of steroids in edible bivalve molluscs, thus addressing potential environmental and public health issues. Thirdly, the research will investigate if humans are a source of contamination for molluscs kept in the laboratory (it is not uncommon for laboratory technicians not to wear protective gloves when they handle molluscan species). There is already circumstantial evidence from previous work at Cefas that human skin is a rich source of steroids. The current work will aim to provide more conclusive evidence through structured experiments, and to extend these studies to quantify sulphated as well as free steroids.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2014

To: 2016

Cost: £98,850
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Fields of Study
Chemicals and Nanotechnology