The field of immunotoxicology is a dynamic one in which changing public health concerns, novel biomedical research advances, and innovative technological developments constantly change the landscape and the way in which work is carried out and utilized. As this field requires combined expertise in both immunology and toxicology, the need for continued training and interdisciplinary interactions are critical for those who work within this field. This is essential both for those with an immunology background who seek to apply this expertise to drug development and safety, as well as those who wish to enhance their current drug safety expertise with a deeper understanding of immunology. This event is HESI Future Leaders Travel Award (FLT) eligible!
The mission of the HESI Immunotoxicology Technical Committee (ITC) is to identify and address scientific issues related to the development and application of immunotoxicology to public health and human health risk assessment; promote the understanding and appropriate use of immunotoxicologic data to protect human health; and contribute substantively to the scientific decision making processes relative to the development of guidelines and regulations for immunotoxicologic testing at the local, national, and international levels.
Respiratory tract sensitization can have significant acute and chronic health implications. While induction of respiratory sensitization is widely recognized for some chemicals, validated standard methods or frameworks for identifying and characterizing the hazard are not available. A workshop on assessment of respiratory sensitization was held to discuss the current state of science for identification and characterization of respiratory sensitizer hazard, identify information facilitating development of validated standard methods and frameworks, and consider the regulatory and practical risk management needs. Participants agreed on a predominant Th2 immunological mechanism and several steps in respiratory sensitization. Some overlapping cellular events in respiratory and skin sensitization are well understood, but full mechanism(s) remain unavailable. Progress on non-animal approaches to skin sensitization testing, ranging from in vitrosystems, –omics, in silico profiling, and structural profiling were acknowledged. Addressing both induction and elicitation phases remains challenging. Participants identified lack of a unifying dose metric as increasing the difficulty of interpreting dosimetry across exposures. A number of research needs were identified, including an agreed list of respiratory sensitizers and other asthmagens, distinguishing between adverse effects from immune-mediated versus non-immunological mechanisms. A number of themes emerged from the discussion regarding future testing strategies, particularly the need for a tiered framework respiratory sensitizer assessment. These workshop present a basis for moving towards a weight-of-evidence assessment.
Profound immunosuppression (e.g., AIDS, transplant therapy) is epidemiologically associated with an increased cancer risk, and often with oncogenic viruses. It is currently unclear how broadly this association translates to therapeutics that modulate immunity. A workshop co-sponsored by the FDA and HESI examined how perturbing the immune system may contribute to carcinogenesis, and highlighted priorities for improving non-clinical risk assessment of targeted immunomodulatory therapies. Conclusions from the workshop were as follows. 1) While profound altered immunity can promote tumorigenesis, not all components of the immune system are equally important in defense against or promotion of cancer and a similar cancer risk for all immunomodulatory molecules should not be assumed. 2) Rodent carcinogenicity studies have limitations and are generally not reliable predictors of cancer risk associated with immunosuppression. 3) Cancer risk needs to be evaluated based on mechanism-based weight-of-evidence, including data from immune function tests most relevant to tumor immunosurveillance or promotion. 4) Information from nonclinical experiments, clinical epidemiology and immunomodulatory therapeutics show that immunosurveillance involves a complex network of cells and mediators. To support a weight-of-evidence approach, an increased focus on understanding the quantitative relationship between changes in relevant immune function tests and cancer risk is needed.
The T-cell-dependent antibody response (TDAR) assay is a measure of immune function that is dependent upon the effectiveness of multiple immune processes, including antigen uptake and presentation, T cell help, B cell activation, and antibody production.
As experience is gained with toxicology testing and as new assays and technologies are developed, it is critical for stakeholders to discuss opportunities to advance our overall testing strategies.
Non-human primates may be the only relevant species for pharmacology or toxicology studies of certain biologics, due to lack of activity in other species.