Genomics: An In Vitro Toxicology Point of View

Raffaella Corvi

Genomics, and in particular its derived discipline, toxicogenomics, are rapidly developing technologies, which permit studies on the impact of chemicals and drugs on gene expression in particular biological systems. Enormous amounts of data will be provided in the context of mechanistic and predictive toxicology from the use of the DNA microarray approach for the simultaneous analysis of the expression pattern of multiple genes. The high-throughput requirement of these approaches necessitates in vitrocell culture systems. This article will give a short overview of the areas of ECVAM's research in which this technology will initially be applied.
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The Feasibility of Replacing Animal Testing for Assessing Consumer Safety: A Suggested Future Direction

Julia Fentem, Mark Chamberlain and Bart Sangster

At present, we are unable to use much of the data derived from alternative (non-animal) tests for human health risk assessment. This brief Comment outlines why it is plausible that new paradigms could be developed to enable risk assessment to support consumer safety decisions, without the need to generate data in animal tests. The availability of technologies that did not exist 10 years ago makes this new approach possible. The approach is based on the concept that data and information derived from applying existing and new technologies to non-animal models can be interpreted in terms of harm and disease in man. A prerequisite is that similar data and information generated in a clinical setting are available to permit this “translation”. The incorporation of this additional translation step should make it possible to use data and information generated in non-animal models as inputs to risk assessment. The new technologies include genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabonomics. Their application to in vitro and human “models” enables large amounts of data to be generated very quickly. The processing, interpretation and translation of these data need to be supported by powerful informatics capabilities and statistical tools. The use of integrated “systems biology” approaches will further support the interpretation by providing better understanding of the underlying biological complexity and mechanisms of toxicity. Clinical medicine is using the opportunities offered by the new ’omics’ technologies to advance the understanding of disease. The application of these technologies in clinical medicine will generate massive amounts of data that will need processing and interpretation to allow clinicians to better diagnose disease and understand the patients’ responses to therapeutic interventions. Support from clinical epidemiology will be essential. If these data and information can be made generally accessible in an ethical and legal way, they should also permit the “translation” of experimental non-animal data, so that they can then be used in risk assessment.
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Assuring Consumer Safety Without Animal Testing: A Feasibility Case Study for Skin Sensitisation

Gavin Maxwell, Maja Aleksic, Aynur Aptula, Paul Carmichael, Julia Fentem, Nicola Gilmour, Cameron MacKay, Camilla Pease, Ruth Pendlington, Fiona Reynolds, Daniel Scott, Guy Warner and Carl Westmoreland

Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD; chemical-induced skin sensitisation) represents a key consumer safety endpoint for the cosmetics industry. At present, animal tests (predominantly the mouse Local Lymph Node Assay) are used to generate skin sensitisation hazard data for use in consumer safety risk assessments. An animal testing ban on chemicals to be used in cosmetics will come into effect in the European Union (EU) from March 2009. This animal testing ban is also linked to an EU marketing ban on products containing any ingredients that have been subsequently tested in animals, from March 2009 or March 2013, depending on the toxicological endpoint of concern. Consequently, the testing of cosmetic ingredients in animals for their potential to induce skin sensitisation will be subject to an EU marketing ban, from March 2013 onwards. Our conceptual framework and strategy to deliver a non-animal approach to consumer safety risk assessment can be summarised as an evaluation of new technologies (e.g. ‘omics’, informatics), leading to the development of new non-animal (in silico and in vitro) predictive models for the generation and interpretation of new forms of hazard characterisation data, followed by the development of new risk assessment approaches to integrate these new forms of data and information in the context of human exposure. Following the principles of the conceptual framework, we have been investigating existing and developing new technologies, models and approaches, in order to explore the feasibility of delivering consumer safety risk assessment decisions in the absence of new animal data. We present here our progress in implementing this conceptual framework, with the skin sensitisation endpoint used as a case study.
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