Healthcare: carcinogenicity testing
Knight A, Bailey J, Balcombe J. Animal carcinogenicity studies: 1 poor human predictivity. Altern Lab Anim 2006; 34(1): 19-27.
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ABSTRACT
The regulation of human exposure to potentially carcinogenic chemicals constitutes society’s most important use of animal carcinogenicity data. Environmental contaminants of greatest concern within the USA are listed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) chemicals database. However, of the 160 IRIS chemicals lacking even limited human exposure data but possessing animal data that had received a human carcinogenicity assessment by 1 January 2004, we found that in most cases (58.1%; 93/160), the EPA considered animal carcinogenicity data inadequate to support a classification of probable human carcinogen or non-carcinogen. For the 128 chemicals with human or animal data also assessed by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), human carcinogenicity classifications were compatible with EPA classifications only for those 17 having at least limited human data (p = 0.5896). For those 111 primarily reliant on animal data, the EPA was much more likely than the IARC to assign carcinogenicity classifications indicative of greater human risk (p < 0.0001). The IARC is a leading international authority on carcinogenicity assessments, and its significantly different human carcinogenicity classifications of identical chemicals indicate that: 1) in the absence of significant human data, the EPA is over-reliant on animal carcinogenicity data; 2) as a result, the EPA tends to over-predict carcinogenic risk; and 3) the true predictivity for human carcinogenicity of animal data is even poorer than is indicated by EPA figures alone. The EPA policy of erroneously assuming that tumours in animals are indicative of human carcinogenicity is implicated as a primary cause of these errors.




Knight A, Bailey J, Balcombe J. Animal carcinogenicity studies: 2 obstacles to extrapolation of data to humans. Altern Lab Anim 2006; 34(1): 29-38.
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ABSTRACT
Due to limited human exposure data, risk classification and the consequent regulation of exposure to potential carcinogens has conventionally relied mainly upon animal tests. However, several investigations have revealed animal carcinogenicity data to be lacking in human predictivity. To investigate the reasons for this, we surveyed 160 chemicals possessing animal but not human exposure data within the US Environmental Protection Agency chemicals database, but which had received human carcinogenicity assessments by 1 January 2004. We discovered the use of a wide variety of species, with rodents predominating, and of a wide variety of routes of administration, and that there were effects on a particularly wide variety of organ systems. The likely causes of the poor human predictivity of rodent carcinogenicity bioassays include: 1) the profound discordance of bioassay results between rodent species, strains and genders, and further, between rodents and human beings; 2) the variable, yet substantial, stresses caused by handling and restraint, and the stressful routes of administration common to carcinogenicity bioassays, and their effects on hormonal regulation, immune status and predisposition to carcinogenesis; 3) differences in rates of absorption and transport mechanisms between test routes of administration and other important human routes of exposure; 4) the considerable variability of organ systems in response to carcinogenic insults, both between and within species; and 5) the predisposition of chronic high dose bioassays toward false positive results, due to the overwhelming of physiological defences, and the unnatural elevation of cell division rates during ad libitum feeding studies. Such factors render profoundly difficult any attempts to accurately extrapolate human carcinogenic hazards from animal data.




Knight A, Bailey J, Balcombe J. Animal carcinogenicity studies: implications for the REACH system. Altern Lab Anim 2006; 34 suppl 1: 139-147.
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ABSTRACT
The 2001 European Commission proposal for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) aims to improve public and environmental health by assessing the toxicity of, and restricting exposure to, potentially toxic chemicals. The greatest benefits are expected to accrue from decreased cancer incidences. Hence the accurate identification of chemical carcinogens must be a top priority for the REACH system. Due to a paucity of human clinical data, the identification of potential human carcinogens has conventionally relied on animal tests. However, our survey of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) toxic chemicals database revealed that, for a majority of the chemicals of greatest public health concern (93/160, i.e. 58.1%), the EPA found animal carcinogenicity data to be inadequate to support classifications of probable human carcinogen or non-carcinogen. A wide variety of species were used, with rodents predominating; a wide variety of routes of administration were used; and a particularly wide variety of organ systems were affected. These factors raise serious biological obstacles that render accurate extrapolation to humans profoundly difficult. Furthermore, significantly different International Agency for Research on Cancer assessments of identical chemicals, indicate that the true human predictivity of animal carcinogenicity data is even poorer than is indicated by the EPA figures alone. Consequently, we propose the replacement of animal carcinogenicity bioassays with a tiered combination of non-animal assays, which can be expected to yield a weight-of-evidence characterisation of carcinogenic risk with superior human predictivity. Additional advantages include substantial savings of financial, human and animal resources, and potentially greater insights into mechanisms of carcinogenicity.




SUMMARY

Knight A, Bailey J, Balcombe J. Which drugs cause cancer? Animal tests yield misleading results. British Medical Journal USA Oct. 2005; 331: E389-E391. Accessed http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/331/7521/E389, 27 Jul. 2010.