Welcome to Toxicology and Pharmacology Unit!
Herbal medicine toxicity has become a major concern due to its widespread use, availability, and easy accessibility. Despite the long history of use and the perception of “natural is safe”, there are still limited information available on potential adverse effects of herbal medicine in humans including the toxicopharmacology, toxicokinetics, and toxicity data. With safety in mind and as the main focus, the Toxicology & Pharmacology Unit was formed with the aims of conducting and establishing a series of high-quality preclinical safety assessment studies to support the safe use of medicinal plants as well as herbal and botanical products. The Unit conduct preclinical toxicology (in vitro and in vivo) studies on selected plants or herbal extracts, in accordance to the international guidelines such as the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) guidelines. The focuses are:
- General toxicity testing using rats: single-dose toxicity (acute toxicity), repeated dose toxicity (sub-acute/sub-chronic toxicity); histopathological, haematological, biochemical testing
- In vitro cytotoxicity testing
- Male and female reproductive systems and prenatal developmental toxicity studies
- Genetic toxicology (Genotoxicity) testing, AMES test, COMET Assay, in vivo and in vitro micronucleus assay.
- Specific toxicity studies on animal organs (liver, heart, kidneys, etc) and organ systems (immune system, neurological system, etc) using rats and zebrafish.
The data collected from preclinical toxicity studies provide valuable input on and understanding of toxic effects of herbs and medicinal plants concerning target organs, dose dependence, relationship to exposure, and potential reversibility. These preclinical data also provide a basis in estimating an initial safe starting dose for clinical trials. Besides focusing on research, our unit also plays an important role in providing safety and toxicology-related diagnostic services to all government hospitals, especially copper and lead level testing using humans’ biological samples.