The Science of Toxicology-Scope, Goals and Four Case Studies

  • B. E. Matter
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 31)


Toxicology is a multidisciplinary science that deals with the study of the harmful actions of chemical substances on biological material. The scope of toxicology is very wide, and contains three principal categories: environmental (pollution, residues, industrial hygiene); economic (medicines, food, food additives, pesticides, dyestuffs, chemicals); and forensic (intoxication, diagnosis, therapy).

The goal of toxicology is to contribute to the general knowledge of the harmful actions of chemical substances, to study their mechanisms of action, and to estimate their possible risks to humans on the basis of experimental work on biological test systems. An overall assessment of the toxicological profile of natural or man-made chemical substances consists of acute, subacute and chronic toxicity studies, mutagenecity, carcinogenecity and teratogenecity studies, and a series of specially designed experiments. In this paper, the relevance of these toxicological studies as well as the place of mutagenecity, carcinogenecity, and teratogenecity studies within the frame of toxicological evaluation are discussed.

As the day-by-day increase in scientific knowledge directly or indirectly linked to toxicology is so great, it is impossible for any signle individual to be an expert in more than a limited area of the entire toxicological field. As this author’s main responsibility is the toxicological evaluation of drugs, he will concetrate on the toxicological profile of four drugs developed by our company, in particular their mutagenic, carcinogenic and teratogenic effects. These are Endralazine, an antihypertensive; ergotamine, a vasoactive drug for the treatment of migraine; bromocriptine, a prolactin inhibitor; and cyclosporin A, an immunosuppressive agent.


Chemical Substance Toxicity Study Ergot Alkaloid Harmful Action Toxicological Evaluation 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. E. Matter
    • 1
  1. 1.Preclinical Research, ToxicologySANDOZ, LtdBaselSwitzerland

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