Toxicology in the field of biology, chemistry and medicines, deals with the study of adverse effects caused to living organisms due to certain chemicals. Toxicology testing involves detection, identification and also the measurement of approximate quantity of drugs and other foreign compounds in biological and related specimens to help in the diagnosis, prognosis, prevention and treatment of poisoning.
The importance for their evaluation lies with their potential to cause birth defects, cancer and other adverse health hazards. Toxicologists working in the toxicology laboratories are specialized scientists or medical persons with knowledge of symptoms, mechanisms, treatment and detection of toxins. Advances in biotechnology, and molecular biology have paved the way for major improvements in evaluation of health risks due to potentially toxic chemicals. These advances are also reducing need for animal testing by developing more laboratory tests based on human cells.
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The toxicology laboratories may reside in hospitals or as a separate facility. Toxicity studies primarily conducted for new pharmaceutical applications to be submitted to FDA require human subjects, but under strict ethical considerations. Various regulatory agencies such as U.S. FDA in the U.S. and EMEA in Europe provide guidance documents for toxicology studies.
The global toxicology laboratories market can be segmented based on test type and application. Test types majorly include blood testing and/or urine testing. Various applications include drugs of abuse, medicines, foods additives, industrial and agricultural chemicals and also forensic toxicology analysis. Drugs which can be detected by toxicology screening include alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, opiates, cocaine, phencyclidine and methadone. Geographically, the global toxicology laboratories market can be segmented into four major regions namely, North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World. Additionally, there are various types of toxicity studies carried out using animals to evaluate acute, chronic, sub-chronic, carcinogenicity, reproductive, developmental, dermal, ocular, genetic and neurotoxicity. New high through put technologies developed by the pharmaceutical companies provide toxicology laboratories to use efficient automated methods for testing of effects of chemicals on biological activities.
Bioinformatics and rapid assay technologies are helping researchers to better understand the cellular networks in the human body which is the key to maintaining health. Gene expression profiling is also being used to predict toxicity since gene expression is known to rapid change on toxin exposure. Toxicogenomics, proteomics, and metabolomics aim to investigate the adverse biological effects induced by toxic compounds. Toxicology laboratories make use of genomic information since it plays a n important role in determining toxicity response by a biological system. The prediction of toxicity based on non-invasive urine and blood samples is a promising achievement, since multiple sampling over a long time period allows the monitoring of chronic toxicity. Increasing number of drug developments and technological advancements such as computerized testing methods are expected to drive the global toxicology laboratories market in the near future. However, there are various factors which affect chemical toxicology and thus standardization of toxicity testing becomes difficult. These factors include drug dosage, route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin exposure) and other factors such as age, species, sex, health and individual characteristics.
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The industry leaders such as Quest Diagnostics offer services such as general toxicology, metals testing, therapeutic drug monitoring, and prescription drug monitoring. The laboratory is known to conduct approximately nine million drug tests per year. Some of the toxicology laboratories include Agilent Technologies, Alere Laboratories, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Pacific Toxicology Laboratoies AIT Laboratories, Cardiff Toxicology Services, Aeon clinical laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, Gene Logic, Inc., Molecular Toxicology, Inc., and Covance, Inc.