Toxicity studies are essential for examining the effect of chemicals absorbed into the body via sources such as the mouth, skin, or lungs with the aim of finding out if the substance has toxic effects. Toxicity tests are used to test drugs, agricultural chemicals, cosmetics and their ingredients, pesticides, and many other new chemical entities that have the possibility of coming in direct contact with the human body. Mice and rats, being identical to humans in the way their body responds to chemical substances, have remained the choice for toxicity profiling for many years.
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However, in the past few decades, the use of animals in testing and scientific research has come under a lot of controversy and criticism. Public disapproval and objections to animal testing have forced regulatory agencies and academic institutions to focus research initiatives toward the development of alternative options for toxicity testing. This has led to the development of a highly sophisticated market for in vitro toxicity testing.
In Vitro Toxicity Testing: a Primer
In vitro toxicology refers to the handling of tissues outside of the normal organ system and under conditions that support their growth, stability, and differentiation. Many seminal experiments over the past four to five decades have established the validity of cell culture techniques for the field of toxicology. The use of these methods has proven fundamental in the understanding and development of a number of critical procedures in the fields of genetics, pharmacology, oncology, cellular and molecular biology, and reproductive biology. The rising interest in these methods and their broad applications has dramatically improved cell culture technology.
With the advent of modern technologies and an increased understanding of mechanisms and principles of cell and tissue culture, toxicologists have started increasingly adopting cell and tissue culture methodologies. Cell culture is now widespread throughout the toxicology industry. While this can be credited largely to the standards and regulations that require consideration and support to alternatives to the use of animals for scientific research, the widened scope of applications allowed by cell cultures is also a chief factor leading to the rising popularity of in vitro toxicology within the scientific community.
Global Market for In Vitro Toxicity Testing: Growth Dynamics
The global market for in vitro testing had a valuation of US$1.5 bn in 2011. The market is expected to expand at an exceptional 15.3% CAGR between 2013 and 2018, and reach US$4.1 bn by 2018. A high rise in research activities in the fields of oncology, pharmacology, and cellular and molecular biology in the past few decades has led to the increased need for toxicity tests in the research world. As a result, the global market for in vitro toxicity testing has also observed significant expansion in the past few years.
The market has especially seen unprecedented growth in the North American regional market in the past years. In 2011, the valuation of North American in vitro toxicity testing market was US$589.2 mn. The flourishing cosmetics industry of Europe has also significantly benefitted the global in vitro toxicity testing market over the past years.
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In Vitro Toxicity Testing Market: Key Vendors
Companies providing in vitro toxicity testing regularly design and perform toxicity tests ranging from acute to chronic toxicity to carcinogenicity tests. Some of the key businesses operating in the field of in vitro toxicity testing include In Vitro Technologies, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Accelrys Software Inc., Charles River Laboratories International Inc., Gene Logic Inc., Covance Inc., Molecular Toxicology Inc., Xenometrix, Mattek Corporation, RTI Health Solutions, and MB Research Laboratories.