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Overview of National Research Council Toxicity Testing Strategy

Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy

“Advances in molecular biology, biotechnology, and other fields are paving the way for major improvements in how scientists evaluate the health risks posed by potentially toxic chemicals found at low levels in the environment. These advances would make toxicity testing quicker, less expensive, and more directly relevant to human exposures. They could also reduce the need for animal testing by substituting more laboratory tests based on human cells. This National Research Council report creates a far-reaching vision for the future of toxicity testing.” (NRC, 2007)

When EPA recognized the need for a comprehensive review of current toxicity testing approaches, we requested that the National Research Council (NRC) conduct such a review and propose a long range vision and strategy for toxicity testing that incorporates emerging methods and technologies. The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Science published a bold, new vision of toxicology in the 21st century in 2007 in the report “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and A Strategy”Exit

The NRC report's overall objective is to foster a transformative paradigm shift in toxicology based largely on the increased use of in vitroHelpin vitroTesting or action outside an organism (e.g. inside a test tube or culture dish.) systems and computational modelingHelpmodelingUse of mathematical equations to simulate and predict real events and processes. that will:

  1. provide broad characterization of chemicals, chemical mixtures, toxicity end points or outcomes, and lifestages;
  2. make testing faster and less costly;
  3. reduce animal testing significantly; and
  4. develop a more robust scientific basis for assessing health effects of environmental agents by incorporating data on mode of actionHelpmode of actionUnderstanding how chemicals perturb normal biological function; the key steps in the toxic response after chemical interaction at the target site that is responsible for the physiological outcome or pathology of the chemical. and information on tissue doses and human exposure.

The NRC report points out that the recommendations will require a substantial commitment of resources, the involvement of multiple organizations in government, academia, industry, and the public, and will take time (10-20 years) to achieve.

The Pesticide Program strategic direction for the Integrated Approach to Testing and Assessment is consistent with the Agency-wide “Strategic Plan for Evaluating the Toxicity of Chemicals”. This strategy will serve as a blue print for implementing the 2007 NAS recommendations on Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century.

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