Answer E: All are equally important
Laboratory and clinical medicine are capable of merging their expertise to develop biomarker-based platforms to delineate the potential toxicological etiology of neurological deficits. Borrowing from the field of systems biology, systems toxicology provides an emerging and powerful approach to understanding the impact toxicant exposure has on the biological system, particularly the brain.
Systems toxicology leverages recent advances in a variety of disciplines, including genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics ("Omics"), to generate a multimodal dataset that seeks to address the complexity of the biological system and distill it to a manageable model.
Relying on biofluids such as blood and CSF, each of these techniques is capable of generating extensive datasets. As a result, a concomitant advancement in bioinformatics techniques has been necessitated to efficiently integrate these platforms in a format that can be used for clinical purposes.
Systems toxicology embraces the holistic understanding of toxicity, which allows a more detailed toxicological assessment to be integrated into the platform. Various toxicological datasets are coupled with biomarkers of exposure to identify and quantify chemical body burden.
This model can be integrated into the clinical setting, in which a patient history that addresses possible occupational and household exposures can be coupled with an extensive neurobehavioral battery to further contextualize the biological analytes. Successful application of such a platform provides the clinician with an elaborate panel of diverse yet parallel biomarkers that address a patient’s neurological deficits, which allows for a significantly improved diagnosis and a clearer approach to disease management.
For more on this topic, see On the Mark: Translating Biomarker Technology to Clinical Neurotoxicity, on which this quiz is based.