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Despite wide-spread consensus on the need to transform toxicology and risk assessment in order to keep pace with technological and computational changes that have revolutionized the life sciences, there remains much work to be done to achieve the vision of toxicology based on a mechanistic foundation. A workshop was organized to explore one key aspect of this transformation – the development of Pathways of Toxicity (PoT) as a key tool for hazard identification based on systems biology. Several issues were discussed in depth in the workshop: The first was the challenge of formally defining the concept of a PoT as distinct from, but complementary to, other toxicological pathway concepts such as mode of action (MoA). The workshop came up with a preliminary definition of PoT as “A molecular definition of cellular processes shown to mediate adverse outcomes of toxicants”. It is further recognized that normal physiological pathways exist that maintain homeostasis and these, sufficiently perturbed, can become PoT. Second, the workshop sought to define the adequate public and commercial resources for PoT information, including data, visualization, analyses, tools, and use-cases, as well as the kinds of efforts that will be necessary to enable the creation of such a resource. Third, the workshop explored ways in which systems biology approaches could inform pathway annotation, and which resources are needed and available that can provide relevant PoT information to the diverse user communities.
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