SCAHT Newsletter 02/2017

SCAHT research retreat well attended and received

On August 28 and 29 the annual SCAHT Research Meeting was held in Montezillon (Neuchâtel). The event gathered researchers from all institutions participating in the SCAHT, as well as representatives from the Swiss regulatory authorities, for scientific discussions on the status and development of the research activities within the SCAHT. Professor Nicole Probst-Hensch from SwissTPH in Basel was the guest speaker and provided insights for SCAHT researchers on the use of epidemiological data in toxicology research. The event also provided a forum for in depth discussions on ongoing activities within the Core Projects, strengthening the SCAHT collaborative network.

EFSA BPA public consultation

Rex FitzGerald from SCAHT has participated in a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) working group developing a scientific protocol for an updated risk assessment of Bisphenol A in 2018. The EFSA held a public consultation on the draft protocol (an EFSA premiere!), followed up by a meeting with its contributors on 14 September in Brussels, at which feedback and additional comments were discussed and consolidated. More details.

53rd Congress of the European Societies of Toxicology

This year’s EUROTOX congress took place in Bratislava from 10 - 13 September and was attended by some 1200 delegates. There were 5 continuing education sessions and 32 symposia and workshops as well as keynote lectures and debates. SCAHT research featured in a symposium on neuroimmune interactions where Elena Reale presented an invited lecture on challenges in using markers of neuroinflammation for hazard identification. SCAHT director Martin Wilks stepped down as Chair of the EUROTOX education subcommittee after completing his second term. He will continue to serve on the EUROTOX executive committee. Further information on the congress can be found here.

MAS Food Safety module

From October 17 to 19, SCAHT is running for the third time a training module on toxicology as part of a continuing education programme in the area of food safety jointly offered by the University of Basel and the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland  (HES-SO Valais). The programme has a modular structure and allows students to acquire a Master, a Diploma or a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Food Safety Management.

Research in SCAHT: In vitro liver

Chronic liver disease due to fibrosis is a major cause of mortality globally. The group of Laura Suter-Dick, professor at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, has recently developed a new 3D in vitro human liver cell model in which fibrosis can be induced. This new model will enable animal-free studies of liver fibrosis mechanisms and testing of potential therapeutic drugs. Further information on this publication.

SCAHT Newsletter 01/2017

Start of new project "menuCH - What does the Swiss population eat?"

SCAHT is a co-investigator in a project led by the Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, funded by the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO. The project aims to characterise food consumption, dietary patterns and lifestyle in the Swiss language regions, and attempts to link these with health data. For further information see here.

Public consultation on BPA reassessment

As the first step in re-evaluating the safety of dietary Bisphenol A (BPA), a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) expert working group, including Rex FitzGerald of the SCAHT regulatory group, has developed a methodology protocol to identify all relevant BPA data published since 2012. The protocol is open for public comments until 3 September 2017. See the EFSA press release for further information.

e.AOP.Portal launched by OECD

The OECD Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework identifies key events leading to adverse outcomes in humans and wildlife. It is an integral part of 21st century toxicology, and will lead to less uncertainty and less use of animals in assessing chemical hazards. OECD has launched the e.AOP.Portal, which informs on the status of AOPs, provides links to published AOPs in the OECD iLibrary, and allows browsing of AOP external review reports.

EAPCCT Congress in Basel

Nearly 400 physicians, poison information specialists and scientists from 45 countries met at the Congress Centre in Basel from 16 to 19 May for the 37th Congress of the European Association of Poison Centres and Clinical Toxicologists (EAPCCT). Key topics discussed included paracetamol poisoning, antidotes, toxicology of migration, anti-convulsant drugs, pre-hospital management of poisonings, pesticide toxicology, biomarkers, and social media in toxicology education. SCAHT was one of the sponsors of the meeting and SCAHT director Martin Wilks, President-elect of the EAPCCT, says: „It was a great privilege hosting this international meeting in Switzerland. We had an excellent scientific programme with key note lectures, debates and many free-standing oral and poster presentations.“

Research in SCAHT: Hepatotoxicity of tolcapone and entacapone

The group of Prof. Krähenbühl at the University Hospital of Basel characterized the effects of tolcapone and entacapone on mitochondrial function in human liver cell line and in freshly isolated mouse liver mitochondria. Both drugs uncoupled the oxidative phosphorylation and inhibited mitochondrial enzyme complexes. The study elucidated the mechanisms of severe liver injury in some patients treated with these drugs. Further information.

SCAHT Newsletter 04/2016

Season's Greetings

Dear friends and supporters of the SCAHT,
Just before the end of the year, we have received the great news of continued funding of our Centre through the Swiss Confederation. This success is the result of nearly two years of hard work by everyone involved. The core of our work over the next four years will be our strategic research programme. Together with regulatory toxicology and our educational efforts this is the basis for achieving our aim to build bridges between academic toxicological research and its application to regulatory decision making in the risk assessment and management of xenobiotics. 
The positive development of the SCAHT would not have been possible without the active contribution of you and your colleagues. For this, we would once again like to express our sincere thanks. 
We wish you and your families a peaceful and relaxing festive season and a very good start to the New Year 2017.

                   Martin Wilks and the SCAHT team

Planned EFSA assessment of Bisphenol A literature

Rex FitzGerald of the SCAHT Directorate has been nominated as a member of the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, Food Ingredients and Packaging (FIP) Working Group "BPA assessment protocol", which is working on a protocol for evaluating new scientific literature on Bisphenol A (BPA) published since the last risk assessment.

OECD/EFSA workshop on Developmental Neurotoxicity (DNT)

DNT has long been regarded as an area in need of new approaches to better detect and characterise hazardous chemicals in a time- and cost-efficient predictive manner using in vitro testing methods. On 18 & 19 October 2016 the OECD and EFSA jointly organised a workshop to further discuss the necessary steps to achieve this goal. SCAHT was represented by its director, Martin Wilks, and neurotoxicology specialist Florianne Tschudi-Monnet, University of Lausanne. A report of the meeting will be published in January 2017 in the OECD Series on Testing and Assessment and a summary perspectives paper will be submitted for publication in the peer-reviewed literature. Further information on the workshop including the presentations can be found here.

Research in SCAHT: Description of a new human 3D neural tissue model for neurotoxicity testing

The SCAHT research group of Prof Luc Stoppini at the HES-SO in Geneva has described a new 3D neural tissue model derived from human embryonic stem cells; this is the first human neural 3D model with multiple cell types (mature neurons, astrocytes and myelinating oligodendrocytes), enabling better modelling the living brain. 
The characterisation of this test system was a joint SCAHT collaboration with the group of Dr Florianne Tschudi-Monnet at the University of Lausanne. This model could in the future have important applications in in vitro testing for neurotoxicity of compounds. Further information on the publication.