Newsletter No 1 March 2012

DENAMIC, a new IVM coordinated EU project

04_12Various epidemiological studies have indicated that exposure to chemicals during human development can have deleterious effects on cognitive development in childhood. DENAMIC (Developmental neurotoxicity assessment of mixtures in children) is a new European research project, coordinated by IVM, in which 45 researchers from 14 European institutes study effects of chemicals on children.

One of the main aims of DENAMIC is to develop tools and methods for the neurotoxic effects of mixtures of environmental pollutants at low levels, possibly resulting in (subclinical) effects on learning (cognitive skills) and developmental disorders in children (e.g. ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and anxiety disorders).

Key elements of the project are:

  1.  Development of sophisticated tools and methods for early warning and screening of compounds for neurotoxicity
  2. To study mechanisms of disease development and the role of individual susceptibility, to improve assessment of exposures and effects
  3.  To improve assessment of exposures and effects
  4.  Focus on combined exposures to environmental agents that can interact to enhance adverse effects and reduction of health inequalities of children through Europe


The research performed in DENAMIC follows a dual approach (hazard characterization, and exposure and epidemiology). In the experimental part novel tools, testing methods and procedures for screening (mixtures of) chemicals for neurotoxicity are developed, together with improved assessment methods for exposure and effects. In the epidemiological part these developed integrated tools will be tested in mother/child pair cohorts focusing on learning and developmental disorders, including the onset of ADHD. The developed methods and obtained results will give recommendations for risk management to the EU and WHO and will largely support the EU chemicals legislation for identifying (potential) neurotoxicants.

DENAMIC approach

A broad suite of contaminants will be included in the studies, with options to bring in new chemicals in case evidence comes up during the project. With 14 partners from ten different countries DENAMIC has a true international character. It is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary project. Five SME’s play a key role in the development of biotechnological screening tools. For DENAMIC a unique consortium of universities, research institutes, and SME’s has been established with extensive knowledge of a wide range of technologies in the fields of epidemiology, (analytical) chemistry (especially environmental pollution analysis), toxicology (especially neurotoxicology and developmental neurotoxicology), development (especially neuronal and cognitive development), omics techniques, environmental justice, and socioeconomical aspects. This combined expertise will enable the development of integrated exposure and effect tools as well as testing methods and will significantly contribute to public health in the field of (behavioural) neurotoxicology. The DENAMIC team includes VU University Amsterdam, (IVM, Institute for Health Sciences, CNCR), University of Utrecht (IRAS), Uppsala University, Fundacion de La Comunidad Valenciana Centro de Investigacion Felipe, Slovak Medical University,Callisto Productions, Center for Public Health Research, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Instituto de Medicina Genomica, View Point SA, Proteome Sciences R&D GmbH & Co. KG, Institutul National De Cercetare-Dezvoltare Pentru Electrochimie Si Materie Condensata, Gen info Ltd.

Dissemination will ensure the project results to arrive at policymakers' desks, and will also illustrate the subject for a scientific audience and the public. The very large network of the consortium ensures dissemination to European industries, and every other interested stakeholder.

The project is carried out with financial support from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme.

Contact: Dr. Pim Leonards,