Building the infrastructure for exposome research

The unique and large-scale open facility Exposome-Scan gives researchers from all over the Netherlands the opportunity to study the exposome. The facility in Leiden opens on 15 February 2024 and builds on the knowledge gained in the Exposome-NL and X-omics research programmes.

Leiden University and Utrecht University lead Exposome-Scan. Other institutions involved are Erasmus MC, VU Amsterdam, LUMC, UMC Utrecht and the University of Groningen.

Research focus

The facility focuses on two types of research.

  1. Studies in which we can measure thousands of chemical substances and nutrients in blood and urine on a large scale. Researchers can link the results to measurements of signalling substances that describe the biological consequences of these exposures. That way, we can start to understand how diseases are influenced by our environment and lifestyle. We call that a Life-Scan. It allows us, for example, to look for chemicals that can later lead to dementia.

  2. The second type of research is aimed at uncovering the underlying mechanisms, For this, we use computer simulations, but also organs-on-chips: mini-organs that mimic the conditions in a person's body. This allows us to track in real-time what certain molecules are doing in our bodies.

Platform for everyone

Anyone who submits a good research request will have access to the research facility and will be able to conduct research at Exposome-Scan at cost price. This may include researchers associated with the NWO Gravitation programme Exposome-NL, but also other experts. Everyone is welcome. Exposome-Scan provides the platform that makes high-quality research possible and will guide the researchers with th measurements and how to interpret the data.

Mountains of data

The research at Exposome-Scan will generate mountains of data. Utrecht University will be responsible for analysing them. The application of artificial intelligence (AI) plays an important role in this. AI can help us not only to understand the complex data but also to understand how new insights relate to everything we already know.