GrecoLab is interested in studying the effects of various types of chemical exposure on biological systems, and their primary mechanism of action. While classical toxicology tries to associate intrinsic properties of the exposures with their biological outcomes, systems toxicology models the complex chem-bio interactions by considering also the molecular alterations happening in the exposed biological systems. GrecoLab primarily focuses on modelling the effects of a new class of compounds, the engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), by interrogating multiple molecular districts of the exposed systems, using omics technologies. We then systematically integrate these layers of information with exposure outcomes and the intrinsic properties of the exposures. Advanced bioinformatics analysis is used to achieve two goals: 1) infer the complex underlying molecular networks, relating intrinsic exposure properties and phenotypic effects, to define pathways of toxicity; 2) find robust predictive integrated models that can help to predict the toxicity of the exposure. GrecoLab also uses well established approaches in modern toxicology, namely the QSAR (quantitative structure-activity relationship) models, and the read across. In addition, chem-bio interactions are also modelled by novel approaches, where both the intrinsic signature and the biosignature of the exposures are considered. Further, the intrinsic and molecular signatures of the exposures are systematically exploited in two directions: I) to explain mechanisms of human pathogenicity, explored in the frame of molecular epidemiology; II) to predict novel therapeutic possibilities, in the field of precision and personalized medicine.
Systems toxicology approaches offer great promise to overcome the burden related to the very slow and laborious classical toxicology assessment and, at the same time, it opens unprecedented possibilities to design safer and more effective drugs, chemicals, and materials.