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Food for thought … Systems toxicology

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Thomas Hartung1, Erwin van Vliet2, Joanna Jaworska3, Leo Bonilla4, Nigel Skinner4, and Russell Thomas5
1 Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), Baltimore, USA and University of Konstanz, CAAT-Europe, Germany;
2 Hospital Clinic – Universitat de Barcelona, Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Fetal and Perinatal Medicine Research Group, Barcelona, Spain;
3 Procter & Gamble, Brussels, Belgium;
4 Agilent Technologies, Inc., Santa Clara, CA, USA;
5 The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA


The need for a more mechanistic understanding of the ways in which chemicals modulate biological pathways is urgent if we are to identify and better assess safety issues relating to a wide range of substances developed by the pharmaceutical, chemical, agri-bio, and cosmetic industries. Omics technologies provide a valuable opportunity to refine existing methods and provide information for so-called integrated testing strategies via the creation of signatures of toxicity. By mapping these signatures to underlying pathways of toxicity, some of which have been identified by toxicologists over the last few decades, and bringing them together with pathway information determined from biochemistry and molecular biology, a “systems toxicology” approach will enable virtual experiments to be conducted that can improve the prediction of hazard and the assessment of compound toxicity.

ALTEX 29(2), 119-128
DOI: 10.14573/altex.2012.2.119

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