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Has Toxicity Testing Moved into the 21st Century? A Survey and Analysis of Perceptions in the Field of Toxicology

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Ten years ago, leaders in the field of toxicology called for a transformation of the discipline and a shift from primarily relying on traditional animal testing to incorporating advances in biotechnology and predictive methodologies into alternative testing strategies (ATS). Governmental agencies and academic and industry partners initiated programs to support such a transformation, but a decade later, the outcomes of these efforts are not well understood.


We aimed to assess the use of ATS and the perceived barriers and drivers to their adoption by toxicologists and by others working in, or closely linked with, the field of toxicology.


We surveyed 1,381 toxicologists and experts in associated fields regarding the viability and use of ATS and the perceived barriers and drivers of ATS for a range of applications. We performed ranking, hierarchical clustering, and correlation analyses of the survey data.


Many respondents indicated that they were already using ATS, or believed that ATS were already viable approaches, for toxicological assessment of one or more end points in their primary area of interest or concern (26-86%, depending on the specific ATS/application pair). However, the proportions of respondents reporting use of ATS in the previous 12 mo were smaller (4.5-41%). Concern about regulatory acceptance was the most commonly cited factor inhibiting the adoption of ATS, and a variety of technical concerns were also cited as significant barriers to ATS viability. The factors most often cited as playing a significant role (currently or in the future) in driving the adoption of ATS were the need for expedited toxicology information, the need for reduced toxicity testing costs, demand by regulatory agencies, and ethical or moral concerns.


Our findings indicate that the transformation of the field of toxicology is partly implemented, but significant barriers to acceptance and adoption remain.

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