The next Scientific Liaison Coalition (SLC) webinar will conclude the series on Predicting Adverse Effects Before They Occur: Teratogens as an Example. The Next Thalidomide webinar will be held on Wednesday, December 20 (see below). The Society of Toxicology is among the founding members of this coalition. This webinar series is open only to members of the partnering societies of the SLC listed on the SLC website, and you must register in advance to attend.
The Next Thalidomide
Wednesday, December 20, 2017, 11:00 AM–12:30 PM ET USA
Presented by Anthony B. Scialli, MD, a teratologist and board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist. Dr. Scialli is Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Pharmacology and Physiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, where he was a full-time Professor and director of the Residency Training Program until 2003, and Clinical Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at George Washington University, where he continues to see patients. His presentation will address disease prevention. One reason to work in toxicology is to prevent episodes of human disease before they occur by identifying and avoiding exposures that are likely to be harmful. In developmental toxicology, this practice is sometimes called preventing the next thalidomide. Of course, one limitation on this idea is the fact that the next thalidomide has already occurred, several times in fact. It can be instructive to review these episodes and learn from them where the failures occurred. In some cases (isotretinoin, valproic acid), well-characterized warnings were not noticed by clinicians or patients. In other cases (diethylstilbestrol, warfarin), the sensitive developmental period in humans was outside the observation period of standard experimental protocols. In yet other cases (mycophenolate), the problem was the importance of the drug for the health of the patient and the need to wait for a critical epidemiological mass to establish causation. Fundamental to the use of traditional experimental protocols is the belief that laboratory animal response predicts human response, but it has been clear for decades that this belief is an artifice of the dosing regimens used in the experimental studies. By using high enough dose levels, any chemical can be made to look teratogenic, a principle enunciated by David Karnofsky in 1965. Because of this principle, experimental animal studies can look highly predictive if we accept any developmental endpoint at any dose as a positive, and if we are not too worried about false alarms. We hope that the use of alternative test strategies and better characterization of mechanisms of abnormal development will make experimental protocols more predictive of human response, but it is not a foregone conclusion that they will do so.
The mission of the SLC is “improving the ability of societies to partner with other domestic and international organizations with the goal of advancing science to improve human and environmental health” by efforts to:
- Strengthen partnerships among health science organizations to increase awareness of toxicology and related sciences on human health.
- Enhance cooperation among societies with the goal of accomplishing tasks benefitting human health and disease prevention through joint and shared activities.
For more information about the SLC, please contact Marcia Lawson.