ToxPlot: animal-free chemical safety testing for the market of the future

Project Description


During his time at the Leiden University Medical Center, biologist Giel Hendriks developed the unique ToxTracker assay for toxicological research purposes. It was this assay that sparked him to found his current biotech company Toxys B.V. To answer a growing demand for this assay by third parties, a secure and efficient solution was necessary. And that is where Omnigen came into play.

Cancer research in its broadest sense has run like a thread through Hendriks’ scientific career. Among his highlights was the development of the ToxTracker assay. This laboratory test maps the profile of pharmaceutical compounds and other chemicals, without the use of laboratory animals. The test helps estimate the potential carcinogenic effects of the compounds tested. In more recent years, Hendriks started to apply his knowledge for the benefit of society. “And this accidentally led to the foundation of Toxys B.V.”

Besides the development of assays and conducting research on the modes of action of tested compounds, the company is also a “service provider”. “As Toxys, we receive compounds from clients of which the genotoxicity profiles need to be mapped”, Hendriks says. “We do so for a wide range of large companies that want to test their future everyday products on safety, ranging from medicine to food supplements and cosmetics.”


All these genotoxicity profiles need to stored and analyzed, for which a software package called ToxPlot was created. ToxPlot, however, could not fit the ever-growing demand of ToxTracker by third parties. “We are working with enormous datasets. Imagine thousands of folders containing in turn one hundred thousand data points. We needed to find a better solution, with the major condition of those large datasets being made accessible internally as well as for our clients.”

At this point, Toxys turned to Omnigen, the Google Cloud partner for the Life Sciences & Health branch. “We needed to find a partner with complementary knowledge, and we found that partner in Omnigen”, Hendriks points out. With expertise in the field of bioinformatics and life sciences, Omnigen could assist Toxys in overcoming a gap in bioinformatic knowledge.

Good communication

The combined expertise of both companies gave rise to an advanced ToxPlot package to help analyse and store ToxTracker data. With the use of Google Cloud computing, Omnigen made ToxPlot secure, fast and scalable, and future-proof. Besides the delivery of a tailored solution, the overall collaboration was a pleasant one. “Between Toxys and Omnigen, there is and there always has been good communication. From both sides we delivered what we promised, and we honoured existing commitments”, Hendriks looks back.

Omnigens contribution led to a higher added value of the ToxTracker assay. “With independent use of the assay, the step towards research that includes the chemical safety testing of new medicine and other products without the use of animals can easily be made.” The ultimate goal is to provide people like you and me with safe products while knowing that no animals were hurt in the process.

Unique expertise

The key to success for such a partnership? According to Hendriks, it all comes down to the right people involved. “You need people with unique expertise that are dedicated to the project. With two companies involved, it is crucial to be complementary and to think in innovative ways, together.”

And that is exactly what the people of Toxys and Omnigen did. “This partnership is a good example in which two innovative start-ups combine their unique expertise to create an added value for society.”

For more information about ToxPlot, click here.

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