Toxicity testing is used to evaluate the impact of chemical agents in living organisms. Research continues to use animals in studies which are used to predict adverse health effects on human beings. This paper analyses the current policies based on the SOT (Society of Toxicology) principles, elaborates the objectives and end points of toxicity testing and indicates the relevance of the information to learning.
Evaluation of current policies based on SOT principles
The policies are in accordance to the SOT guiding principles as they reflect the spirit of the society in light of the usage of animals in toxicology. The first objective of the society, “the design and conduct of the best possible scientific research” is in line with the principle of investigators and personnel being qualified and appropriately trained to conduct procedures on animals, humane care and the use of lab animals. This indicates that they must be armed with necessary knowledge and skills for best practices.
The second objective which is the responsible use of animals in research and testing to promote the quality of human life and the health of animals satisfies the principle on care and handling of animals which holds that individual must be trained and experienced in the proper care and handling of what is being studied. This ensures that the best care is accorded to test animals. The third objective regarding the use of alternatives to animals echoes the sentiments of the guiding principle which states that “When scientifically appropriate, alternative procedures that reduce the number of animals used refine the use of whole animals or replace whole animals”. Fourth, research conducted must make use of less painful and stressful procedures with the goal of improving animal care. This is in accordance with the guiding principle on the use, care and transportation of animals for training and research for the sole purpose of protecting these animals and adhering to welfare laws. More so, this indicates the observation of reasonable steps that are undertaken to reduce discomfort, pain and distress in animals (SOT, 2006).
Lastly, the goal of reducing the number of animals used for research and testing is achieved by the principle which states that when scientifically appropriate, other procedures that reduce the use of animals in tests or replace the use of whole animals are encouraged and considered. More so, careful selection of specifies that are used in research must be done to and animals kept at minimum required to achieve reliable results.
Determining exposures which may cause adverse health effects
Toxicologists have to determine which exposures may cause adverse health effects. Research is undertaken on animals in an attempt to establish the baseline for physiological processes which are then mapped to human beings. The aim is to determine how dosage levels cause changes in living organisms and specifically what adverse effects can result from the use of certain chemical substances. The use of animal studies is intended to reveal the levels of does which can result in toxicity as well as identify those which are beneficial. In vitro methods are undertaken to ensure that human beings are note exposed to toxic chemicals (SOT, 2006).
Relevance of information to learning
The information in the case study helps in providing guidelines in toxicity testing, specifically associated with the use of animals in order to determine permissible levels of exposure to certain agents and chemicals. Exposure to various chemical and agents result in different effects in the human body depending on the level of exposure. It is important to clarify the risks to health and research subjects which are associated to exposure for the purpose of defining relevant risk management decisions.
Objectives of toxicity testing
Ideally, toxicologists conduct safety tests. Initially they are undertaken in test tubes before being tested on animals. The testing defines the threshold levels which may be no impact, beneficial effects and harmful effects. An example is paracetamol which is a drug intended for pain relief. Paracetamol is used for headaches, back pain, menstrual pain, tooth pain and many other types of pain. However, excessive intake of paracetamol leads to liver failure in human beings, which may eventually lead to death (Nash & Guha, 2011). Another example is nutrient deficiency. For example, lack of Vitamin D in pregnant mothers is associated with adverse health outcomes in the unborn including birth complications. To prevent such outcomes, women who are found to have a low dose of Vitamin D are advised to take supplements and this is especially the case for women who cannot access sufficient sunlight as a result of their geographical location.
End points of this toxicity testing
The endpoints of toxicity testing assist in determining the levels of dose administration as well as the mode of administration, for example, intravenous, inhalation, subcutaneous or intradermal. The researchers determine the maximum dose which can be tolerated as well as the average dose that living organisms including human beings can handle. It also serves to identify the potential organs in living organisms which are target organs for possible toxicity which must be monitored when such substances are administered. The changes in the manner in which these organs function are
The position of SOT on animal testing
I agree with the Society of Toxicology on the use of animals for testing. This is due to the fact that they are a vital component of research and can be used to draw inferences about the human population when assessing levels of risk. However, care and proper procedures must be observed to minimize pain and distress in animals used. However, going forward, I believe that new alternatives to whole animal testing such as venturing into molecular biology can be exploited to provide better means of extrapolating results in test species to the general human population.