'Omic' technologies include genomics, transcriptomics (gene expression profiling), proteomics and metabolomics. We are utilizing these new technologies in an effort to develop novel biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility and response to benzene. Advances in genomics allow one to study hundreds to thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms simultaneously on small quantities of DNA using array-based technologies. We are currently utilizing these technologies to examine genetic variation in pathways relating to biotransformation, DNA repair, folate metabolism and immune response with the goal of finding biomarkers of susceptibility to benzene hematotoxicity. Transcriptomics is used to measure the full complement of activated genes, mRNAs or transcripts in a particular tissue at a particular time typically using microarray technology. We have applied microarrays to the study of global gene expression in the peripheral blood cells of benzene-exposed workers. More than 100 genes were identified as being potentially differentially expressed, with genes related to apoptosis and immune function being the most significantly affected. Initial studies employing proteomics have also shown that several proteins are altered in the serum of exposed compared to control subjects and these proteins are potential biomarkers of benzene exposure. Omic technologies therefore have significant potential in generating novel biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility and response to benzene.
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