Table of Contents
Advances in Toxicology
Volume 2015, Article ID 575403, 14 pages
Review Article

Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology: A New Epoch for Toxicology Research

1Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Chester, Thornton Science Park, Chester CH2 4NU, UK
2Departments of Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, SUNY Albany, School of Public Health, One University Place, Rm 153, Rensselaer, NY 12144-3456, USA
3Faculty of Health and Social Care, Edge Hill University, St. Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire L39 4QP, UK
4Division of Genetics, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY 12208, USA
5Molecular Toxicology, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY 12201, USA

Received 1 August 2014; Accepted 21 December 2014

Academic Editor: Kanji Yamasaki

Copyright © 2015 Mark T. Mc Auley et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Systems biology and synthetic biology are emerging disciplines which are becoming increasingly utilised in several areas of bioscience. Toxicology is beginning to benefit from systems biology and we suggest in the future that is will also benefit from synthetic biology. Thus, a new era is on the horizon. This review illustrates how a suite of innovative techniques and tools can be applied to understanding complex health and toxicology issues. We review limitations confronted by the traditional computational approaches to toxicology and epidemiology research, using polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their effects on adverse birth outcomes as an illustrative example. We introduce how systems toxicology (and their subdisciplines, genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic toxicology) will help to overcome such limitations. In particular, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of mathematical frameworks that computationally represent biological systems. Finally, we discuss the nascent discipline of synthetic biology and highlight relevant toxicological centred applications of this technique, including improvements in personalised medicine. We conclude this review by presenting a number of opportunities and challenges that could shape the future of these rapidly evolving disciplines.