InVitro Toxicological Studies

The focus of toxicology has shifted somewhat since the mid-1980s, from whole-animal toxicity tests to alternative in-vitro toxicity methods [19, 34]. The application of cell culture techniques in toxicological studies is referred to as in-vitro toxicology, which describes a field of study that applies technology using isolated organs, tissues and cell culture to investigate the toxic effects of chemicals [35].

The development of in-vitro toxicity test methods has been influenced by a number of factors [36]. Animal welfare issues are one of the important social concerns that have impacted on the recent shift towards alternatives in toxicity testing. Another social issue is the increasing public interest on the safety of chemicals and new products. Each year, thousands of new cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and consumer products are introduced into the marketplace. Considering there are approximately 80 000 chemicals in commerce [37], as well as an extremely large number of chemical mixtures, the in-vivo testing of this number of chemicals would require a large number of expensive, time-consuming - and in some cases nonhumane - tests on animal species [38]. The need to determine the potential toxic effects of this large number of chemicals has provoked the search for rapid, sensitive, and specific test methods.

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