SCAHT Newsletter 01/2019

AOPs in chemical risk assessment - OECD webcast, 30 April 2019

SCAHT researchers and regulatory group members are actively involved in the international Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) programme. AOPs will facilitate hazard identification for risk assessment, particularly from in vitro and omics data. This webinar introduces the AOP framework, the concept of collaborative development, and examples of AOP application in chemical risk assessment. (Speakers Nathalie Delrue, OECD; Kate Willett, Humane Society International; Jason O’Brien, Environment Canada; and Dan Villenueve, US EPA.)

SCAHT Regulatory Toxicology joins Pharmaceutical Sciences in Basel

The SCAHT Regulatory Toxicology Group, located within the SCAHT Directorate at the University of Basel, has become a Research Group within the university’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Whilst remaining an integral part of the SCAHT, the move provides an academic home for the research and educational activities within the university. The group’s profile can be found here. Group leader and SCAHT director Martin Wilks has been appointed Adjunct Professor (Titularprofessor) in the Faculty of Sciences.

SCAHT joins ECETOC Task Force on persistent chemicals and water resources protection

Several initiatives have recently identified substances of concern to drinking water resources suggesting that the existing persistence, bioaccumulative and toxic criteria (PBT criteria) used for REACH registration might not be sufficiently protective for water resources. The role of this ECETOC task force is to support the development of a science-based framework to assess the potential concern for drinking water resources. In particular, SCAHT regulatory toxicologist Lothar Aicher evaluates the appropriateness of the additional toxicity criteria in the persistence mobile toxic concept (PMT) proposed by the German UBA (Umweltbundesamt, Germany’s federal agency for environmental protection) and its relevance to a risk assessment approach.

SCAHT co-organises Continuing Education session at this year’s SOT meeting

Together with Vickie Walker from the NIEHS National Toxicology Program, SCAHT director Martin Wilks co-organised and co-chaired a Continuing Education session on “Conducting Systematic Review in Toxicology – Why, When, How?” at this year’s Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting which took place in Baltimore (USA) in March. More than 150 delegates heard and discussed presentations on background, problem formulation, quality assessment, evidence integration and reporting of systematic reviews. See session abstract and program for more information.

Research in SCAHT: How to analyse omics data in toxicology

The Geneva/Lausanne SCAHT research groups of Jean-Charles Sanchez and Serge Rudaz have jointly published a work-flow to assess biomarkers of toxicity, by integrated pathway analysis on proteomics and metabolomics data. This will aid in interpreting “omics” data from toxicity studies and help to understand mechanisms of toxicity. See publication.

SCAHT Newsletter 03/2018

Christmas greetings

Dear partners and friends of SCAHT,

As the year ends, we have already completed the first half of our current financial period. Thanks to your support, we have had a successful year across all our activities, in research, in supporting the authorities, and in our training programmes.

We would like to thank you for your valuable contributions this year and wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Your SCAHT team

Support for SCAHT directorate

We warmly welcome Chantal Britt as new Communications Officer in our team! Her background is in medical and science journalism and in recent years she has worked on developing and implementing communications strategies and material for a number of scientific organisations. This will also be the focus of her part time job in SCAHT with an initial emphasis on activities concerned with SCAHT’s 10-year anniversary in 2019. Chantal holds a similar position at the newly founded 3R Competence Centre in Bern.

SCAHT on Twitter

You can now follow @SCAHTorg  on Twitter.

USEPA special issue in Environment International on the health effects of phthalate exposure

Nicolas Roth from the SCAHT Directorate has been invited as a Guest Editor for a forthcoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Special Issue in Environment International (IF=7.297) on the health effects of phthalate exposure. This Special Issue is expected to be a significant contribution in terms of evidence for human health risks from phthalates, and also for advancing our understanding of the application of systematic evidence synthesis methods to environmental health research and chemical risk assessment practice to support decision-making. The first Systematic Review out of a series of eleven papers slated for publication has now been published and can be accessed here.

EFSA Bisphenol A reevaluation

In the EFSA Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes and Processing Aids (CEP), a new working group of scientific experts including Rex FitzGerald from the SCAHT is evaluating recent toxicological data on the food contact material Bisphenol A (BPA). Based on this evaluation, CEP will re-assess the potential hazards of BPA in food and review the temporary safe level set in EFSA’s previous full risk assessment from 2015.

Research in SCAHT: Hazard assessment for nano materials

A new pre-clinical hazard assessment strategy for intravenous nanomedicines has been developed by the Jörg Huwyler group at the University of Basel. This tiered testing strategy, based on standardised US and EU assay protocols, can assist in the cost-effective design and optimisation of therapeutic nanoparticles. Further information on publication.

SCAHT Newsletter 02/2018

SCAHT Director becomes President of the EAPCCT

After a period of two years as President-elect, SCAHT Director Martin Wilks has taken over as President of the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists (EAPCCT). His term of office started at the end of the 38th congress in Bucharest in May of this year and will last for two years.

Training sessions for cantonal chemists

At the request of the Cantonal Laboratory in Zurich and in collaboration with the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) in Berne, SCAHT has delivered two two-day continuing education courses in hazard identification and risk assessment in April and June for 50 cantonal chemists. The training sessions were complemented by one-day courses held by the FSVO in July on risk management and risk communication for pesticide residues in food and food contact materials, and for cosmetics and commodities.

WHO establishes new process for quality, safety and efficacy assessment of vector control products

Vector-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever are major contributors to morbidity and mortality worldwide, particularly in developing countries. The use of insecticidal products has been instrumental in significantly reducing the global burden of disease from vector-borne diseases, and WHO has evaluated such products for more than 50 years under the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (WHOPES). This scheme has now been replaced by a new process of prequalification of products in line with similar processes in WHO for medicines, diagnostics, vaccines and devices. An international expert team has been set up to support WHO in this process and SCAHT Director Martin Wilks has been invited to be a member of this team. The group met for the first time in Arusha, Tanzania in May. Further information can be found here.

SCAHT as a hosting partner for international students

In September, SCAHT will be hosting a group of four international students from the US Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The students are evaluating what is required for approval of alternative test methods to animal experimentation, with the focus on nanomaterial safety assessment. As part of their stay, they will meet research organisations, industry and regulatory bodies in Switzerland, to conduct more research before they finalise their reports. Prof. Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser, Co-Chair BioNanomaterials from the Adolphe Merkle Institute, Université de Fribourg, is coordinating the students' activities.

Research in SCAHT: Advancing the AOP framework 

Arising from a meeting of experts in inflammatory diseases of different organs (liver, lung, kidney, and brain) and endocrine-immune interactions, held at the EU-JRC in September 2017, including SCAHT neuroinflammation researcher Florianne Tschudi-Monnet, this paper provides a consensus on how to best represent inflammation in a way that is biologically appropriate yet is generalisable enough to facilitate AOP network connectivity; it thus represents a significant step forward in the evolution and application of the AOP framework. The SCAHT in vitro neuroinflammation and developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) research is part of the international effort to develop a framework for 21st century DNT testing of chemicals.