Prospects for the development of validated screening tests that measure developmental toxicity potential: view of one skeptic.

Teratology

PubMedID: 8910978

Mirkes PE. Prospects for the development of validated screening tests that measure developmental toxicity potential: view of one skeptic. Teratology. 1996;53(6):334-8.
Humans are exposed to a variety of potential developmental toxicants. This fact, combined with the knowledge that human development can be disrupted by "environmental" agents, has led to the development of methods designed to identify potential developmental toxicants. Currently, the principal method used to screen drugs and chemicals that are potential human developmental toxicants is the segment II study (i. e. , a study in which prospective drugs and chemicals are tested in pregnant animals). Because of the cost and time involved in such studies and the pressure to reduce the number of animals used in such testing, alternative methods for developmental toxicity testing have been sought. This has resulted in a number of in vitro tests whose aim is to screen large numbers of agents quickly and inexpensively. Although numerous in vitro tests of developmental toxicity have been developed during the last 15 years, no one system or combination of tests have been validated for the purpose intended. Nonetheless, two systems--the limb bud/CNS micromass, and the chick embryo neural retina cell culture (CERC)--continue to be advanced as viable in vitro developmental toxicology tests. The purpose of this commentary is to evaluate the prospects for the development of an in vitro test system(s) that can screen the universe of drugs and chemicals and reliably identify those that require further study and those that do not. The conclusion of this investigator is that the prospects for validating such in vitro tests are not promising. This conclusion is based primarily on the lack of basic knowledge regarding the relevance of end points assayed in the micromass and CERC test systems to those end points known or thought to be critical for normal development.