work into which mechanistic data can be incorporated has limited the usefulness of the recent advances in developmental biology for quantitative risk assessment. Instead, default corrections continue to be used, despite recommendations such as those published in Science and Judgment (NRC 1994) calling for the incorporation of new scientific information into the risk assessment process. The committee believes that the framework laid out in this report has the potential to bring the information gained from recent advances in developmental biology into developmental toxicity risk assessment.
Recommendation 3. To improve the interdisciplinary advances in developmental toxicology, the committee recommends that the databases of developmental toxicology, developmental biology, and genomics be better linked on the Internet and that multidisciplinary outreach programs be established for the effective exchange of information and techniques related to the analysis of developmental defects and to the assessment of toxicity for risk assessment.
The committee concludes that increased multidisciplinary efforts and exchanges of information in chemistry and biology are essential to improve risk assessment for developmental toxicity. As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, developmental toxicology is a broad and complex field.
In recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of future work in developmental toxicology, this interdisciplinary NRC committee was formed. It has been a struggle for the scientists from different relevant disciplines to communicate the research and public-health challenges in developmental toxicology within the committee. Members of this committed group were unfamiliar with each other’s discipline and with the differing connotations of such terms as “mechanism.” The committee soon realized the need for future activities fostering communication and joint research efforts within the scientific community.
3.1. Development of cross-disciplinary, linked databases of relevance for developmental toxicity.
To support the growth of knowledge in developmental toxicology and organize information in a way useful for risk assessment, this committee proposes that cross-disciplinary, linked databases of relevance for developmental toxicology be established with entries from industry, academia, and government. To capture and collate information about chemical toxicants that are important as developmental toxicants, internal organization of the data should reflect knowledge about chemical structure and should include known molecular targets, organotypic effects, and defined associations with developmental anomalies primarily from animal tests but also, when available, from humans. The database should link to genomics databases, for example, with epidemiological information on human variation, such as the large number of human DME polymorphisms. Another important link would be the historical control database for developmental and reproductive toxicity.