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Interview with Nicolas Venisse

Nicolas Venisse

Earlier this year in January, we shared a Compass piece on the blog ‘What is new about the exposome?’ by Nicolas Venisse. It was a fascinating topic that was new to me, and I was interested to hear more. In this month’s interview we hear from Nicolas about his work which is both applied and research oriented. As part of the HEDEX (Health Endocrine Disruptors Exposome) research group, Nicolas and colleagues investigate the health effects of exposure to environmental pollutants, primarily endocrine disruptors. This work is particularly interesting as the group applies various methods in the aim to achieve a complete picture of the exposure scenario, rather than effects of individual agents. A big thank you to Nicolas for both his contributions to the blog. Read on for more!

 

Nicolas Venisse
Toxicology and Pharmacokinetics Department
Clinical Investigation Centre
University Hospital, Poitiers, France

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your respective roles? What is a typical day like for you?

I share my time between hospital-based activities and research in environmental toxicology. My hospital laboratory is involved in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, clinical and forensic toxicology. My research laboratory, the HEDEX (Health Endocrine Disruptors Exposome) research group, which is part of the clinical investigation centre (CIC INSERM 1402) is focusing on the determination of exposure to environmental pollutants, mainly endocrine disruptors, and its impact on health. For that purpose, we rely on specific and sensitive analytical techniques, toxicokinetics and cohorts of patients and pregnant women.

Is there anything that your laboratory does, or that is done at your centre, that you would consider innovative?

With my colleague, Antoine Dupuis, we develop highly sensitive LC-MS/MS methods for the assessment of human exposure to endocrine disruptors. Our objective is to cover a wide range of these compounds in order to obtain a complete picture of human exposure to endocrine-disruptive compounds. Concomitantly, in collaboration with Sami Haddad, from the University of Montreal, also a member of IATDMCT, we are now developing physiologically-based pharmacokinetic models in order to obtain global exposure estimates at key susceptibility periods of life (in utero and other early-life periods).

What technological innovations have entered into use during your career that have permitted a change, or evolution, in practice?

The availability of highly sensitive mass spectrometer instrumentation enables us to detect these endocrine-disrupting compounds present in our organism at very low concentrations. The availability of sensitive high resolution mass spectrometer is another step forward for the untargeted determination of these compounds.

How did you become interested in your area of expertise?

As a resident, I was trained in TDM and Clinical Toxicology in several Pharmacology and Toxicology laboratories in Bordeaux, Limoges and Poitiers in France. I am grateful to Prof Pierre Marquet, from the University of Limoges and former president of IATDMCT, who was my PharmD director, and to Prof Serge Bouquet, who gave me the opportunity to join the Pharmacology and Toxicology department, here in Poitiers. My PhD in pharmaceutical sciences provided me with strong basics in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

Is there anything that you’ve seen or heard about recently and thought “I’d like to incorporate that idea at my centre”?

The exposome concept is very appealing since it has the potential to identify environmental contributors to health and disease. It is also very challenging, but technological advances such as high-resolution mass spectrometry will enable us to study the first steps towards comprehensive assessment of the exposome.

What sort of research do you have on the horizon that you think might influence clinical practice in the future?

I believe that our research on endocrine-disrupting compounds could rapidly be translated into clinical practice, in the field of infertility diagnosis for example.

What do you consider is the future for TDM and CT? What are you excited about? What are the challenges we face?

Apart from the aforementioned exposome concept and its applications in toxicology, I believe that biomarkers of effect have a great potential in treatment optimization.

How has COVID-19 affected your professional life?

COVID-19 generally had a negative impact on our research activities since our research laboratory was closed during lockdown in March and April.

However, it was also the occasion for very interesting weekly phone discussions with colleagues from other centres in France about the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the proposed repurposed drugs. These discussions led to recommendations and to a position paper published on behalf of the Clinical Pharmacology Committee of the French agency for AIDS and viral hepatitis research (ANRS) and the Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Treatment Personalization working group of the French Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (SFPT) (Antiviral Res 2020 Sep; 181: 104866).

I got my first shot of COVID-19 vaccine recently. I hope that with vaccine we'll rapidly get back to normal life.

The content of the IATDMCT Blog does not necessarily have the endorsement of the Association.