Toxicology Services: Present and Future
Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical or biological agents such as drugs or poisons. Toxicity of substances is usually tested by two main methods i.e. in vitro and in vivo. According to IQ4I analysis, Toxicology Services Global Market is poised to reach $14,343.0 million by 2025 at a high single-digit CAGR. The In vivo toxicology services market is estimated to occupy a little less than half the market and predominantly used in industries such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Industries such as Chemicals, cosmetics and others that include food and consumer goods utilize more of the approved in vitro methods for toxicology testing. The in vitro toxicology market is growing at a faster rate that is strongly driven by the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) policy adopted in most industries across the globe. The market is also driven by the increasing opposition towards animal testing, especially in the cosmetics industry. REACH testing in the chemical industry also encourages the use of alternatives for toxicology testing. However, these methods can’t replace in vivo testing completely.
Although the toxicology services market is being driven by many factors such as mandatory toxicology testing regulations, increased R&D investments, increased outsourcing trends and rapid advances in technologies such as 3D cell culture and organ-on-chip; a number of factors such as high cost and long duration of some toxicology studies, high capital requirement for Facilities and GLP certifications, opposition to animal testing, and limited IP protection in the developing nations are restraining the market growth.
Most companies offer toxicology services for studies that include acute toxicology, chronic toxicology, dermal toxicology, ocular toxicology, developmental and reproductive toxicology, neurotoxicology and others. However recent trends indicate offering of more specialized toxicology services such as inhalation toxicology and infusion toxicology. These kinds of specialized studies are adding value to the CRO services. Another popular mode of standing out from other CROs include the acquisition of companies that may either expand the geographical reach or may fill in the gaps in order to provide end to end toxicology services for most industries. For an instance, Eurofins Scientific acquired Advinus Therapeutics in 2017. This acquisition enhances Eurofins reach in India.
While in industries such as Cosmetics, the use of animals for testing is nearly banned worldwide. This is, in turn, driving the development of newer alternatives. For instance, the development of 3D cell culture is the newest technology that is used in toxicology. These 3D cultures assays have many advantages over the 2D cell culture assays as they can mimic the tissue environment nearly close to that of an in vivo tissue. Therefore, they address the limitations of both animals and two-dimensional cultures and provide more accurate data on the effects of short- and long-term exposure to toxicants. Also, these tests are expected to cost relatively less when compared to the animal tests. Organ-on-chip uses the 3D cell culture technology to the next level. Organ-on-chip is micro-engineered multichannel 3D microfluidic biomimetic system enabled with high resolution, real-time imaging and in-vitro analysis of biochemical, genetic and metabolic activities in tissues and organs.
Companies such as Insphero offer services for toxicity testing on 3D cell cultures. Although these methods cannot fully replace in vivo testing, they are set to impact the number of animals used for regulatory testing. Emulate Inc. has announced a strategic collaboration with LabCorp to integrate Emulate’s Organs-on-Chips technology into preclinical drug evaluation and testing services. In April 2017, FDA announced a multiyear R&D agreement with Emulate Inc. Research will begin with a liver-on-chip that is developed by the company and will be evaluated by the FDA. This agreement may expand in the future to cover other organ-on-chip devices that could replace the current testing methods. Although there are restrictions on the use of animal’s new technologies, such as 3D cell culture and Organ-on-chip allows the market to continue its growth.