New Publication: The Role of Omics in the Application of Adverse Outcome Pathways for Chemical Risk Assessment


In conjunction with the second International Environmental Omics Symposium (iEOS) held at the University of Liverpool in September 2014, a workshop was held to bring experts from academia, government and industry. The purpose of this workshop was to review the specific roles that high-content molecular-level datasets (e.g. transcriptomics, metabolomics, and proteomics) can have within the context of the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) framework and supporting risk assessments for both ecological and human health. In the light of growing number of application examples of omics data in the context of AOPs and ecological risk assessment (ERA), here we consider how omics datasets may continue to provide value to the field through their ability to support the AOP framework. In particular, we discuss their role in helping to identify potential MIEs and providing supportive evidence of KEs at different levels of biological organisation and across different taxonomic groups. We also discuss areas with the strongest potential for short and medium-term breakthroughs in terms of providing mechanistic evidence to support read-across, providing weight of evidence in mode of action assignment, understanding biological networks, and developing more robust species-sensitivity extrapolations. We consider the key challenges which need to be addressed, including the need for a cohesive approach within experimental design, the current lack of a framework for quantitatively link genes and pathways to KEs, and the need to obtain information on the natural variations in molecular responses to allow for accurate interpretations of chemically-induced molecular-level changes. We hope this manuscript can provide guidance for driving the long-awaited paradigm shift in how chemical and hazard assessments are currently conducted.

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