Environ Health Perspect 1998 ;106 Suppl 2):419-25
13th Meeting of the Scientific Group on Methodologies for the Safety Evaluation of Chemicals (SGOMSEC): validation and acute toxicity testing
Scientific principles demand that before newly developed alternative methods for safety testing are fully embraced by the industrial or regulatory community, they reliably and reproducibly predict the designated toxic end point. The process used to determine reliability and reproducibility is termed validation, and it generally culminates with a highly controlled, blinded study using multiple chemicals and laboratories. It is imperative that the validation study is designed to confirm the previously established reproducibility and predictive power of the assay. Much has been learned recently about the practical aspects of validation through investigation of alternative methods for acute toxicity testing, i.e., those methods that assess acute systemic toxicity, skin irritation, and eye irritation. Although considerable progress has been made--many alternative tests are now commonly used in various industrial settings--there have been few tests that have successfully passed a complete validation. Some of the barriers to successful validation have been a) lack of high-quality, reproducible animal data; b) insufficient knowledge of the fundamental biologic processes involved in acute toxicity; and c) the development of truly robust in vitro assays that can accurately respond to materials with a wide range of chemical and physical characteristics. It is recommended that to progress in the areas of eye and skin irritation we need to expand our knowledge of toxic markers in humans and the biochemical basis of irritation; progress in the area of acute systemic toxicity will require the development of in vitro models to determine gastrointestinal uptake, blood-brain barrier passage, and biotransformation.