Regulatory Forum Opinion Piece: Carcinogen Risk Assessment: The Move from Screens to Science*

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Abstract

Throughout the last 50 years, the paradigm for carcinogenicity assessment has depended on lifetime bioassays in rodents. Since 1997, the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) S1B has permitted the use of a 2-year rodent bioassay (usually in the rat) and an alternative, genetically modified mouse model to support cancer risk assessment of pharmaceuticals. Since its introduction, it has become apparent that many of the stated advantages of the 6-month Tg mouse bioassay have, in actual fact, not been realized, and the concern exists that an albeit imperfect, 2-year mouse bioassay has been replaced by a similarly imperfect 6-month equivalent. This essay argues strongly that model systems, using cancer as the end point, should be discontinued, and that the recent initiatives, from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, on “mode of action,” “adverse outcome pathways,” and “human relevance framework” should be embraced as being risk assessments based upon the available science. The recent suggested revisions to the ICH S1 guidelines, utilizing carcinogenicity assessment documents, go some way to developing a science-based risk assessment that does not depend almost entirely on a single, imperfect, cancer-based end point in nonrelevant animal species.

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