High-throughput toxicity testing technologies along with the World Wide Web are revolutionizing both generation of and access to data regarding the biological activities that chemicals can elicit when they interact with specific proteins, genes, or other targets in the body of an organism. To date, however, most of the focus has been on the application of such data to assessment of individual chemicals. The authors suggest that environmental surveillance and monitoring represent the next frontiers for high-throughput toxicity testing. Resources already exist in curated databases of chemical-biological interactions, including highly standardized quantitative dose-response data generated from nascent high-throughput toxicity testing programs such as ToxCast and Tox21, to link chemicals detected through environmental analytical chemistry to known biological activities. The emergence of the adverse outcome pathway framework and the associated knowledge base for linking molecular-level or pathway-level perturbations of biological systems to adverse outcomes traditionally considered in risk assessment and regulatory decision-making through a series of measurable biological changes provides a critical link between activity and hazard. Furthermore, environmental samples can be directly analyzed via high-throughput toxicity testing platforms to provide an unprecedented breadth of biological activity characterization that integrates the effects of all compounds present in a mixture, whether known or not. Novel application of these chemical-biological interaction data provides an opportunity to transform scientific characterization of potential hazards associated with exposure to complex mixtures of environmental contaminants.
- Adverse outcome pathway