In DepthToxicology

Digital chemical test impresses

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Science  13 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6398, pp. 117
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6398.117

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Summary

Toxicologists this week unveiled a chemical safety screening tool that could greatly reduce the need for six common animal tests. Those tests account for nearly 60% of the estimated 3 million to 4 million animals used annually in risk testing worldwide. The computerized tool—built on a massive database of molecular structures and existing safety data—appears to match, and sometimes improve on, the results of animal tests for properties such as skin sensitization and eye irritation, the researchers report in today's issue of Toxicological Sciences. But it also has limitations; for instance, the method can't reliably evaluate a chemical's risk of causing cancer. And it's not clear how open regulatory agencies will be to adopting a nonanimal approach, although both European and U.S. regulators say they are open to the idea. Still, the big data approach is encouraging to those seeking to reduce and replace animal testing.