Fundamental to improving drug development (as well as other types of chemical safety) is the concept of using knowledge of biological pathways or networks (systems biology) to improve our understanding of toxicity and disease. In fact, the realization that chemical safety assessment could be improved by shifting to an approach based on an explicit delineation of biological pathways was proposed in 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences in the report Toxicity Testing for the 21st Century: a vision and a strategy. Since 2007, an international collaboration, the “Adverse Outcome Pathway” (AOP) framework, has developed into a central tool for realizing this vision. The AOP framework provides an effective means to capture, organize and evaluate knowledge relating to biological activity and potential chemical perturbations that may lead to adverse outcomes of regulatory significance. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is coordinating a centralized AOP knowledge hub comprised of databases, guidance documents and training materials to support the AOP framework.
A main element of the AOP Knowledgebase is the AOP Wiki, a wiki-based crowdsourcing platform to collect information relating to AOPs. The OECD has developed extensive guidance for using the AOP wiki, the foremost of which is the AOP User’s Handbook. Anyone can see all of the information in the Wiki; for those who would like to leave comments, simple self-registration is required. Those who wish to enter AOP information must request write-privilege by creating an account and filling out an author request form available through the AOP Wiki. Access is granted either via the OECD by acceptance into the formal work plan, or more informally by contacting the current administrator of the AOP Wiki, the Society for the Advancement of AOPs. Authors of AOPs in the Wiki may nominate their AOPs for formal scientific review by OECD.
The AOP program was originally created to address immediate needs in the field of toxicology; however, both the concept and the biological content are equally applicable to the fields of human disease and medicine.
AOPs 101 – introduction to AOPs, the AOP program, case studies and potential applications
AOPs 201 – provides a more in-depth discussion of the OECD’s AOP Knowledge-base software, including the AOP Wiki, AOP Explorer and Effectopedia.
Online courses are intended for researchers and risk and hazard assessors from academia, government, public, and private sectors who have an interest in submitting or using AOPs, or who are generating data that can be used to develop AOPs. These courses are freely available.
Course 1: AOP History and Overview
Overview of the AOP concept, OECD AOP Program, general principles on the development and use of AOPs, and the quality criteria used to evaluate AOPs. This module can be included in a graduate or advanced undergraduate curriculum.
Course 2: AOP Wiki Tutorial
Provides detailed step-by-step instruction on the information needed to develop and submit quality AOPs to the AOP-Wiki site.
Self-Exam: AOP Wiki Tutorial
Complete a short quiz to see how well you have understood the material presented in the AOP Wiki Tutorial Course. If you receive a score of 84 percent or higher, congratulations–you’ve passed and are now ready to build your AOP!
Download the AOP Wiki Tutorial Course Exam to run on your computer (zip file) »
Download the AOP Wiki Tutorial Course Exam to run in your browser (zip file) »
SETAC Continuing Education Courses
Other AOP Resources