Cancer Biology, Toxicology and Alternative Methods Development Go Hand-in-Hand

Pekka Kohonen1, Rebecca Ceder1, Ines Smit1, Vesa Hongisto2, Glenn Myatt3, Barry Hardy4, Ola Spjuth4,5 and Roland Grafström1,2

1Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, 2VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Turku, Finland, 3Leadscope, Columbus, OH, USA, 4Douglas Connect, Zeiningen, Switzerland and 5Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

(Received 9 December 2013; Accepted 21 April 2014)


Toxicological research faces the challenge of integrating knowledge from diverse fields and novel technological devel- opments generally in the biological and medical sciences.

We discuss herein the fact that the multiple facets of cancer research, including discovery related to mechanisms, treatment and diagnosis, overlap many up and coming interest areas in toxicology, including the need for improved methods and analysis tools.

Common to both disciplines, in vitro and in silico methods serve as alternative investigation routes to animal studies. Knowledge on cancer development helps in understanding the relevance of chemical toxicity studies in cell models, and many bioinformatics-based cancer biomarker discovery tools are also applicable to computational toxicology.

Robotics-aided, cell-based, high-throughput screening, microscale immunostaining techniques and gene expression profiling analyses are common tools in cancer research, and when sequentially combined, form a tiered approach to structured safety evaluation of thousands of environmental agents, novel chemicals or engineered nanomaterials.

Comprehensive tumour data collections in databases have been translated into clinically useful data, and this concept serves as template for computer-driven evaluation of toxicity data into meaningful results.

Future ‘cancer research-inspired knowledge management’ of toxicological data will aid the translation of basic discovery results and chemicals- and materials-testing data to information relevant to human health and environmental safety.

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