The International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX) is the premier scientific organization for researchers interested in the metabolism and disposition of xenobiotics. ISSX was formed in 1981 when a small group of scientists, brought together during the 1970's under the aegis of the Gordon Research Conferences on Drug Metabolism, created an international society to promote the interaction of scientists dedicated to the study of xenobiotics in living systems.
ISSX is one of the largest scientific societies dedicated to investigating the metabolism and disposition of chemicals in biological systems. The Society’s activities are relevant to all aspects of drug development and toxicology worldwide. The strength of the organization is its international nature as well as the breadth of the membership’s interests.
The study of xenobiotics (medicinal drugs, agricultural chemicals, industrial chemicals, environmental contaminants and other exogenous substances) encompasses the introduction into, distribution and transport throughout, interactions with and elimination of these compounds from biological systems. The studies on xenobiotics include the rates and extents of the processes and the biological consequences.
The term Xenobiotic comes from the Greek for xeno (foreign) and biotics (of or pertaining to life). Xenobiotics are compounds that are foreign to an organism or are not part of its normal nutrition. Examples of Xenobiotics are compounds that include drugs, food additives, and environmental pollutants. These agents are normally eliminated from the body after metabolism to compounds that are excreted through the bile, kidney, lung, or dermus. Enzymes that metabolize Xenobiotics are very important for the pharmaceutical industry as they are responsible for the breakdown of drugs. Likewise, Xenobiotic transporters also affect the duration that drugs are present in the body.
Man's use of xenobiotics dates from antiquity but interest in foreign compound metabolism dates from only the mid-19th century when the knowledge and techniques of organic chemistry were first applied to its study. For nearly a century thereafter biotransformation was generally equated with "detoxication" or the elimination of a compound's biological activity.
This view changed in the late 1930s with the discovery that the synthetic azo-dye Prontosil owed its life-saving antibacterial activity to its metabolite, sulfanilamide. Since the 1950s the biological effects of numerous xenobiotic substances have been shown to be due to biotransformation products rather than the parent compound. The importance of biotransformation and other aspects of the interaction of xenobiotics with living systems has not escaped the notice of regulatory agencies worldwide. Their need for scientific knowledge on which to base regulations and safety evaluations for chemicals and drugs provides one important motivation for the study of xenobiotics.
Of necessity, scientists working in such diverse fields as clinical and basic pharmacology, biochemistry, toxicology and oncology became drawn into metabolism studies, both in universities and research institutes and in the pharmaceutical, chemical, agro-chemical, food processing, tobacco and cosmetic industries. In 1981, a small group of scientists, brought together during the 1970s under the aegis of the Gordon Research Conferences on Drug Metabolism, took the bold step of suggesting the organization of an international society to promote the interaction of scientists dedicated broadly to the study of xenobiotics in living systems. Thus the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics was formed.
ISSX currently has a strong international base of over 2,250 members from more than 50 countries. In addition to international meetings held every third year, ISSX holds one or more regional meetings and workshops in European, Asia/Pacific and North American venues on a regular basis.