Toxicologist Serrine Lau:
Investigating Molecular Crime Scenes
Serrine Lau is a toxin detective
Lau investigates how our bodies interact with poisonous chemicals.
Toxicologists study how
People process chemicals
DNA interacts with chemicals
Genetic differences affect risk of disease from chemical exposure
Which toxic chemical is in cigarette smoke?
Found in cigarette smoke, car exhaust, photo developing solutions, some cosmetic depigmentation creams
Hydroquinone is a polyphenol that yields toxic byproducts in the body.
Are All Environmental Chemicals Dangerous?
No. Even organic foods grown without pesticides are swimming in natural chemicals.
Using a Mouse Model to Study Toxins
To avoid exposing people to harmful chemicals, Lau uses rodents to study the interplay of genes and polyphenols.
Modeling Metabolism: Chemical Travels
Damage Report: Liver, Kidneys, Bladder
DNA Differences Can Influence Risk
Our DNA affects:
How we metabolize polyphenols and other chemicals
The function of proteins the genes encode
Individual risk of contracting disease from chemical exposure
Which functions do proteins have in processing chemicals?
What do toxicogeneticists study?
Can you name a gene that has been linked to kidney cancer?
Lau Links Genes to the Crime Scene
Lau is isolating genes that may increase the susceptibility of mice to chemically induced kidney cancers.
Eker rats develop tumors when their kidneys metabolize toxic hydroquinone.
Some humans have a similar gene, which may increase their susceptibility to kidney cancer.
A gene directs the production of tumor suppressor protein
When this protein is lacking, cells lose an important safeguard against tumors
In some humans susceptible to kidney cancer, the tumor suppressor protein doesn't work properly
What is toxicogenomics, and how can it speed the development of new medicines?