THE STAR PHOENIX | EcoToxChip aims to slash cost and time for chemical toxicity tests, save lab animals


Published: 7May2019

The rectangular, white plastic plate Markus Hecker holds in his hand serves as the matrix for a new way of screening chemicals for toxicity, one that could spare the majority of live animals now used for this purpose in labs. If the chips are proven to work, they could be an invaluable tool in the testing of thousands of chemicals already in use — chemicals that, in many cases, were launched on the market decades ago, before the advent of stricter safety rules.

He is one of a trio of principal investigators (along with Niladri Basu of McGill University in Montreal and Doug Crump at Environment and Climate Change Canada in Ottawa) leading a team to develop and commercialize the EcoToxChip. Assistant professors Natacha Hogan at the U of S and Jessica Head at McGill are the other two key players, lead investigators in the project.

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