You may not have realised it, but a revolution in toxicity testing is evidently underway. With this in mind, the US Environmental Protection Agency asked the NRC to convene a symposium to stimulate discussion on recent scientific advances (including new methods in molecular biology, bioinformatics and computational toxicology) for evaluating biologically important changes in key toxicity pathways. The symposium (which was held in May 2009) “included presentations and discussion sessions on pathway-based approaches for hazard identification, applications of new approaches to mode-of-action analyses, the challenges to and opportunities for risk assessment in the changing paradigm, and future directions”. As noted in the recently released symposium summary, the application of these new approaches in human health risk assessments is expected to result in a large influx of data that will need to be evaluated. The EPA is also evidently “faced with tens of thousands of chemicals on which toxicity information is incomplete and emerging chemicals and substances that will need risk assessment and possible regulation”.

[National Research Council (2010). Standing Committee on Risk Analysis Issues and Reviews. Toxicity pathway-based risk assessment: preparing for paradigm change: a symposium summary. Full final report available to buy, or freely download via http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12913.html on the internet {185520}.]

On the same theme, a special issue (numbers 2-4) of volume 13 of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part B has been recently published with the title “The future of toxicology testing”. This publication contains a number of interesting papers, including a hefty presentation (of over 80 pages) describing the NRC’s overall vision and strategy for toxicity testing in the 21st century (Krewski D. et al., Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part B 2010, 13, 51; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10937404.2010.483176) {185565}, and a paper by EPA staff outlining a strategic plan for the evaluation of chemical toxicity using this new scientific paradigm (Firestone M. et al., ibid. 2010, 13, 139; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10937404.2010.483178) {185566}. Clearly there would be legislative implications if the EPA moved from a toxicity evaluation system that is largely based on traditional toxicology, to one that is geared primarily to testing in human cell lines and in vitro systems. A further paper in the special issue discusses this topic and describes various challenges and opportunities that would be involved under key provisions of one major US law governing chemical safety, the Toxic Substances Control Act (Locke P.A. and Myers D.B. Jr, ibid. 2010, 13, 376; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10937404.2010.483952) {185567}.

The above item was taken from the August 2010 issue of Toxicology and Regulatory News which is sent automatically to members of bibra (click here for more details).

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