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What Do Toxicologists Do?

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Presentation on theme: "What Do Toxicologists Do?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What Do Toxicologists Do?
Most Toxicologists work to assess and understand how chemicals affect living systems Develop mechanistic understanding of effects Ensure safer chemical products Develop safer drugs & medicines Determine risks from chemical exposures Develop treatments for chemical exposures Ensure a safe food and water supply Forensics

2 Toxicology is an applied science with many areas of specialization
Images from Gray’s Anatomy Images from Image from Molecular Cell Biology What is so great about toxicology is that you are specialized but diverse all at the same time!! Introduce the concept of dose w/ tetrodotoxin (fugu)

3 Who are Toxicologists? Toxicology involves integration of information from many different areas of expertise. People working in toxicology can also be called: Biochemists Chemists Pathologists Cancer Researchers Veterinarians Medical Doctors Cell and Molecular Biologists Engineers Mathematicians Statisticians Lab Technicians Animal Care Providers

4 What are major areas of specialization in toxicology?
Mechanistic toxicology (basic biology and chemistry) Descriptive toxicology (testing) Regulatory toxicology (rule making and compliance) Risk assessment (modeling) Translational and clinical (applying basic research to patient care)

5 Mechanistic Toxicology
Focuses on how Chemicals produce adverse effects Biological systems protect themselves against adverse effects Involves Cellular and Molecular Biology Chemistry, often xenobiotic metabolism Xenobiotic: a chemical that is foreign to the organism

6 Mechanistic Toxicology
Chemical research in toxicology usually investigates metabolic transformations of drugs or potentially hazardous chemicals How persistent is a chemical in the body? Are metabolic products toxic? Do test animals exhibit the same results as humans or other species of concern?

7 Descriptive Toxicology
Typically involves toxicity testing Broad spectrum of responses reflects toxicity Functional effects, such as immunological responses Growth inhibition Reproductive impairment Increase in cancer incidence Mortality

8 Descriptive Toxicology Toxicity Testing
Assesses the concentration-dependent hazard a chemical may present Human health Natural populations Results typically applied to Approval of product use Regulating allowable concentrations in the environment.

9 Descriptive Toxicology
Types of toxicity testing In vitro (test tube)—useful in detecting potential biochemical and genetic effects Use model systems (bacteria, cultured animal cells, DNA interactions) In vivo (animal)—are essential for detecting health effects Acute, chronic, multi-generation Experimental animals may be treated with high doses over a lifetime to evaluate potential to cause cancer In silico (computer-based)—biological experiments conducted by computer models; these depend on data previously collected in other experiments Completion of all toxicity tests may take five or six years and is very costly

10 Descriptive Toxicology Toxicity Testing
Molecular and cellular studies in toxicology often supplement toxicity testing results to help ascertain chemical hazard. They often unravel complex processes that underlie an adverse response. Use of toxicants can help determine the function of proteins in complex networks.

11 Descriptive Toxicology
What private and public sectors invest in toxicity testing that aims to protect human health? Chemical Manufacturers Pharmaceutical Industry US Federal Agencies and Programs National Toxicology Program (NTP) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) State and Local Governmental Bodies

12 Regulatory Toxicology
Setting rules and assuring compliance Product registration Allowable concentrations in food or environmental media Technical and legal issues may require negotiation and gathering of new information Risk and safety are estimated by total weight of evidence Toxicity evidence is the basis, but often rules are modified by political, legal considerations, as well a technical feasibility

13 Regulatory Toxicology Risk Assessment
Is the mathematical modeling process that yields estimates for safe or allowable chemical concentrations Hazard identification Dose-response assessment Exposure characterization Identify unique effects of chemical mixtures Risk assessment Risk characterization Right to know and understand Uncertainty characterization

14 Translational Translational science is the application of biomedical research and drug development to efficiently use a promising drug in the right patient circumstances and assess its efficacy in the human using appropriate indicators such as biomarkers. Scientists work in multidisciplinary teams involving basic researchers, clinicians, patient care providers, regulators, and ethics boards. Basic scientists provide new tools for use in patients and for assessment of their impact, and clinical researchers make novel observations about the nature and progression of disease that can lead to further basic research.

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