Genetic toxicology at the crossroads—from qualitative hazard evaluation to quantitative risk assessment

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Abstract

Applied genetic toxicology is undergoing a transition from qualitative hazard identification to quantitative dose–response analysis and risk assessment. To facilitate this change, the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) Genetic Toxicology Technical Committee (GTTC) sponsored a workshop held in Lancaster, UK on July 10–11, 2014. The event included invited speakers from several institutions and the contents was divided into three themes—1: Point-of-departure Metrics for Quantitative Dose–Response Analysis in Genetic Toxicology; 2: Measurement and Estimation of Exposures for Better Extrapolation to Humans and 3: The Use of Quantitative Approaches in Genetic Toxicology for human health risk assessment (HHRA). A host of pertinent issues were discussed relating to the use of in vitro and in vivo dose–response data, the development of methods for in vitro to in vivo extrapolation and approaches to use in vivo dose–response data to determine human exposure limits for regulatory evaluations and decision-making. This Special Issue, which was inspired by the workshop, contains a series of papers that collectively address topics related to the aforementioned themes. The Issue includes contributions that collectively evaluate, describe and discuss in silico, in vitro, in vivo and statistical approaches that are facilitating the shift from qualitative hazard evaluation to quantitative risk assessment. The use and application of the benchmark dose approach was a central theme in many of the workshop presentations and discussions, and the Special Issue includes several contributions that outline novel applications for the analysis and interpretation of genetic toxicity data. Although the contents of the Special Issue constitutes an important step towards the adoption of quantitative methods for regulatory assessment of genetic toxicity, formal acceptance of quantitative methods for HHRA and regulatory decision-making will require consensus regarding the relationships between genetic damage and disease, and the concomitant ability to use genetic toxicity results per se.

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