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The classic experimental tool of toxicology is testing on non-human animals. While testing in animal models remains as a method of estimating human effects, there are both ethical and technical concerns with animal testing. Since the late s, the field of toxicology has sought to reduce or eliminate animal testing under the rubric of "Three Rs" - reduce the number of experiments with animals to the minimum necessary; refine experiments to cause less suffering, and replace in vivo experiments with other types, or use more simple forms of life when possible.
Computer modeling is an example of alternative testing methods; using computer models of chemicals and proteins, structure-activity relationships can be determined, and chemical structures that are likely to bind to, and interfere with, proteins with essential functions, can be identified.
In the American NGO National Academy of Sciences published a report called "Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy" which opened with a statement: "Change often involves a pivotal event that builds on previous history and opens the door to a new era. Pivotal events in science include the discovery of penicillin, the elucidation of the DNA double helix, and the development of computers.
Toxicity testing is approaching such a scientific pivot point. It is poised to take advantage of the revolutions in biology and biotechnology. Advances in toxicogenomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, epigenetics, and computational toxicology could transform toxicity testing from a system based on whole-animal testing to one founded primarily on in vitro methods that evaluate changes in biologic processes using cells, cell lines, or cellular components, preferably of human origin.
In some cases shifts away from animal studies has been mandated by law or regulation; the European Union EU prohibited use of animal testing for cosmetics in These are treated with special care. Some chemicals are subject to bioaccumulation as they are stored in rather than being excreted from the body;  : 85—90 these also receive special consideration. Several measures are commonly used to describe toxic dosages according to the degree of effect on an organism or a population, and some are specifically defined by various laws or organizational usage.
These include:. Medical toxicology is the discipline that requires physician status MD or DO degree plus specialty education and experience. Clinical toxicology is the discipline that can be practiced not only by physicians but also other health professionals with a master's degree in clinical toxicology: physician extenders physician assistants , nurse practitioners , nurses , pharmacists , and allied health professionals.
Computational toxicology is a discipline that develops mathematical and computer-based models to better understand and predict adverse health effects caused by chemicals, such as environmental pollutants and pharmaceuticals. A toxicologist is a scientist or medical personnel who specializes in the study of symptoms, mechanisms, treatments and detection of venoms and toxins ; especially the poisoning of people.
Archives of Toxicology - Springer
To work as a toxicologist one should obtain a degree in toxicology or a related degree like biology , chemistry , pharmacology or biochemistry. Bachelor's degree programs in toxicology cover the chemical makeup of toxins and their effects on biochemistry, physiology and ecology.
After introductory life science courses are complete, students typically enroll in labs and apply toxicology principles to research and other studies. Advanced students delve into specific sectors, like the pharmaceutical industry or law enforcement, which apply methods of toxicology in their work. The Society of Toxicology SOT recommends that undergraduates in postsecondary schools that don't offer a bachelor's degree in toxicology consider attaining a degree in biology or chemistry.
Additionally, the SOT advises aspiring toxicologists to take statistics and mathematics courses, as well as gain laboratory experience through lab courses, student research projects and internships. Toxicologists perform many different duties including research in the academic, nonprofit and industrial fields, product safety evaluation, consulting, public service and legal regulation. In order to research and assess the effects of chemicals, toxicologists perform carefully designed studies and experiments. These experiments help identify the specific amount of a chemical that may cause harm and potential risks of being near or using products that contain certain chemicals.
Research projects may range from assessing the effects of toxic pollutants on the environment to evaluating how the human immune system responds to chemical compounds within pharmaceutical drugs. While the basic duties of toxicologists are to determine the effects of chemicals on organisms and their surroundings, specific job duties may vary based on industry and employment.
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For example, forensic toxicologists may look for toxic substances in a crime scene, whereas aquatic toxicologists may analyze the toxicity level of water bodies. The salary for jobs in toxicology is dependent on several factors, including level of schooling, specialization, experience. The U. The BLS notes that this increase could be due to research and development growth in biotechnology, as well as budget increases for basic and medical research in biological science. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the scientific journal, see Toxicology journal.