Toxicologists traditionally use animals to test the toxicity of chemicals and other substances. But the brand new field of toxicogenomics, which applies a whole-genome approach to toxicology questions, is changing all that. Still in its infancy, this field is destined to change the way toxicologists think and act, and could even help optimize the drug-development process.

"It holds great promise for the future," says Jay Goodman, a Michigan State University toxicologist. "Toxicogenomics is a tool that can improve the assessment of potential toxicity." Phil Iannaccone, a researcher at Northwestern University Medical School and invited author of a recent Environmental Health Perspective editorial on the new technology,1 agrees: "The hope is that the observed patterns will be characteristic of a class of toxicants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons versus peroxysome proliferators. Eventually one might hope for specificity allowing actual identification of the chemical," he says. "For now it...

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