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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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ATLA editorial calls for toxicology data sharing

Atla coverThe editorial of the latest edition of FRAME's scientific journal ATLA (Alternatives to Laboratory Animals) by Mark Cronin, Professor of Predictive Toxicology in the School of Pharmacy and Chemistry at Liverpool John Moores University discusses the kind of challenge that would need to be overcome to support data sharing between the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.


He says: "In silico toxicology has progressed in the last five years. However, there is little overlap between activities in the pharmaceutical industry and in other areas - in the case of the REACH system, there is much that could be transferred both ways. The key will be the possibility of sharing expertise, for the benefit of society as well as the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, rather than confining the benefit to individual companies."


He warns that data sharing is rare because of the need to protect intellectual property.  "We must be realistic in our expectations of transfer or release of knowledge. It is naïve to assume that these industries will release current or historic data, especially those that give their business a competitive edge.”


Practical challenges include the ways in which data are collected, recorded and stored. He suggests a number of ways that industry could start to work towards effective data sharing:


• Collect the standard data available for drugs. Often there is a lack of references to the original tests or studies, but merely to the presence or absence of a particular effect.

• Pharmaceutical industries could compile toxicity profiles into a suitable data format, with meta information included for general or in-house use.

• Industry-wide decisions should be taken to ensure that data are stored in a usable and future-proof format.

• Release data related to ‘failed’ drugs. Publishing only successful research skews data for modelling toward other areas of chemistry.

"Progress will only be made by addressing the controversial issues and building rationally on the current successes to face our challenges. Ultimately, it will require courage to use these approaches at the regulatory level and gain regulatory acceptance. This is not a problem that will be solved by one individual or business — it should be tackled across the industry."

The full text of the editorial is available here


Archived 19 January 2010