Translational toxicology: a developmental focus for integrated research strategies

Claude Hughes
Michael Waters
David Allen
Iyabo Obasanjo, William & Mary


Background: Given that toxicology studies the potential adverse effects of environmental exposures on various forms of life and that clinical toxicology typically focuses on human health effects, what can and should the relatively new term of “translational toxicology” be taken to mean?

Discussion: Our assertion is that the core concept of translational toxicology must incorporate existing principles of toxicology and epidemiology, but be driven by the aim of developing safe and effective interventions beyond simple reduction or avoidance of exposure to prevent, mitigate or reverse adverse human health effects of exposures.

The field of toxicology has now reached a point where advances in multiple areas of biomedical research and information technologies empower us to make fundamental transitions in directly impacting human health. Translational toxicology must encompass four action elements as follows:

1) Assessing human exposures in critical windows across the lifespan 2) Defining modes of action and relevance of data from animal models 3) Use of mathematical models to develop plausible predictions as the basis for 4) Protective and restorative human health interventions. The discussion focuses on the critical window of in-utero development.

Summary: Exposure assessment, basic toxicology and development of certain categories of mathematical models are not new areas of research; however overtly integrating these in order to conceive, assess and validate effective interventions to mitigate or reverse adverse effects of environmental exposures is our novel opportunity. This is what we should do in translational toxicology so that we have a portfolio of interventional options to improve human health that include both minimizing exposures and specific preventative/restorative/mitigative therapeutics.