Metabolomics in Toxicology and Preclinical Research [ALTEX, 2013]
ALTEX: Alternatives to Animal Experimentation
Metabolomics, the comprehensive analysis of metabolites in a biological system, provides detailed information about the biochemical/physiological status of a biological system, and about the changes caused by chemicals. Metabolomics analysis is used in many fields, ranging from the analysis of the physiological status of genetically modified organisms in safety science to the evaluation of human health conditions. In toxicology, metabolomics is the -omics discipline that is most closely related to classical knowledge of disturbed biochemical pathways. It allows rapid identification of the potential targets of a hazardous compound. It can give information on target organs and often can help to improve our understanding regarding the mode-of-action of a given compound. Such insights aid the discovery of biomarkers that either indicate pathophysiological conditions or help the monitoring of the efficacy of drug therapies. The first toxicological applications of metabolomics were for mechanistic research, but different ways to use the technology in a regulatory context are being explored. Ideally, further progress in that direction will position the metabolomics approach to address the challenges of toxicology of the 21st century. To address these issues, scientists from academia, industry, and regulatory bodies came together in a workshop to discuss the current status of applied metabolomics and its potential in the safety assessment of compounds. We report here on the conclusions of three working groups addressing questions regarding 1) metabolomics for in vitro studies 2) the appropriate use of metabolomics in systems toxicology, and 3) use of metabolomics in a regulatory context.