Superfund researchers explore new pathways to understand arsenic-induced birth defects

Researchers in Rebecca Fry’s laboratory in the UNC Superfund Research Program have developed a novel strategy for predicting the biological pathways that can influence environmentally induced birth defects–findings which may provide insight into the prevention and treatment of these defects.

In a study published in the March 2013 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, postdoctoral researchers Bhavesh Ahir and Julia Rager, PhD candidate Alison Sanders, and Dr. Rebecca Fry used a systems biology approach to identify the glucocorticoid receptor as a possible pathway of arsenic-induced birth defects. Systems biology combines experimental and computational methods to develop new approaches for understanding complex biological interactions and mechanisms.

Researchers hope that this innovative strategy can be used to predict other biological pathways that mediate environmentally induced birth defects. The cost-effective approach could be used for a wide range of environmental contaminants.

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