Toxicology

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Toxicology (from the Greek words τοξικός - toxicos "poisonous" and logos) is a branch of biology, chemistry, and medicine concerned with the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms.[1] It is the study of symptoms, mechanisms, treatments and detection of poisoning, especially the poisoning of people.

Contents

History

Dioscorides, a Greek physician in the court of the Roman emperor Nero, made the first attempt to classify plants according to their toxic and therapeutic effect.[2] Ibn Wahshiya wrote the Book on Poisons in the 9th or 10th century.[3]

Mathieu Orfila is considered to be the modern father of toxicology, having given the subject its first formal treatment in 1813 in his Traité des poisons, also called Toxicologie générale.[4]

In 1850 Jean Stas gave the evidence that the Belgian Count Hypolyte Visart de Bocarmé killed his brother-in-law by poisoning with nicotine[5]

Theophrastus Phillipus Auroleus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493–1541) (also referred to as Paracelsus, from his belief that his studies were above or beyond the work of Celsus - a Roman physician from the first century) is also considered "the father" of toxicology.[6] He is credited with the classic toxicology maxim, "Alle Dinge sind Gift und nichts ist ohne Gift; allein die Dosis macht, dass ein Ding kein Gift ist." which translates as, "All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison." This is often condensed to: "The dose makes the poison".

The relationship between dose and its effects on the exposed organism is of high significance in toxicology. The chief criterion regarding the toxicity of a chemical is the dose, i.e. the amount of exposure to the substance. All substances are toxic under the right conditions. The term LD50 refers to the dose of a toxic substance that kills 50 percent of a test population (typically rats or other surrogates when the test concerns human toxicity). LD50 estimations in animals are no longer required for regulatory submissions as a part of pre-clinical development package.[citation needed]

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