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 This scheme has now been replaced by a new process of prequalification of products in line with similar processes in WHO for medicines, diagnostics, vaccines and devices.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.

SCAHT Newletter 01/2018

SOT 2018 Annual Meeting attracts more than 6,100 scientists

More than 6,100 scientists participated in the SOT 57th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, the largest toxicological congress in the world, held 11 - 15 March 2018, in San Antonio, Texas. Many of the 170-plus Scientific Sessions, including 2,500 poster presentations, and 14 Continuing Education courses provided a look at the future of toxicological research and its applications, not least in the regulatory arena. Of special interest to regulatory toxicologists were sessions on systematic reviews, in particular in areas of scientific controversy (e.g. endocrine disruptors, low-dose effects) and the regulatory application of mechanism-based toxicology such as the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach. The latter topic was also controversially and enjoyably discussed in the traditional SOT/EUROTOX debate. The full program is available from the meeting website.

Report from the Swiss Biobanking Platform Conference

The Swiss Biobanking Platform held its first official conference titled “Visions for Innovation” on 1 Feburary 2018 in Lausanne. A number of distinguished national and international experts in the field presented their visions and foreseen challenges for using biobanks in cutting edge research. Panel discussions covered major challenges like biobanking sustainability and longevity, ensuring samples accessibility restricted to the appropriate research questions, and promoting harmonisation procedures and high-quality standards, all within required frameworks of ethical, legal and social dimensions.

New staff at the SCAHT regulatory toxicology unit

We are happy to announce that Blanca Suarez has joined the SCAHT regulatory toxicology team from 1 March 2018. Blanca takes over the responsibilities of Jenny Sandström von Tobel in her role as work package contributor to the Horizon2020 NanoReg2 project. Blanca obtained a doctorate in human molecular genetics from the University of Oxford UK in 1999, and has subsequently gathered a wealth of experience in the regulatory environment, particularly related to nanosafety. She has coordinated large groups of partners through work package leadership in various FP7 and H2020 projects under the umbrella of the nano medicine and nano safety cluster. Blanca currently holds a position as head of technology and expertise at TEMAS Consulting, but will dedicate 50% of her time to support the SCAHT activities in the NanoReg2 project.

Research in SCAHT: AOP-based non-animal testing for developmental neurotoxicity (DNT)

A new publication by Bal-Price et al 2018 arises from the second ISTNET workshop (International Stakeholder Network on DNT testing) in Konstanz, Germany in 2017. It represents a collaborative effort by groups from academia, industry and regulatory bodies (including SCAHT researchers) to encourage the regulatory use of alternative (3R) methods for chemical screening and prioritisation. It describes quality and performance standards for in vitro tests which measure key developmental processes (key events in DNT adverse outcome pathways = AOPs) such as neurogenesis, migration and differentiation, up to neuronal network formation. Further information.

SCAHT Newsletter 03/2017

Season's Greetings

candleDear friends and supporters of the SCAHT,
The final newsletter of the year 2017 highlights two events of significant importance for the SCAHT. The first is the visit by the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation to the SCAHT, the second is the admission of the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz as a new collaborator institution of the SCAHT. Both events underline the recognition of the SCAHT as a successful research infrastructure in Switzerland and provide additional motivation to our research, education and regulatory toxicology efforts.
As we reflect on another positive and exciting year for the SCAHT we would like to thank you and your colleagues for your encouragement and support throughout the year. We wish you and your families a relaxing and peaceful festive season, and a very happy New Year 2018.
            Martin Wilks and the SCAHT team

Visit by the State Secretary to SCAHT

On 29th November, the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Dr Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, together with the Head of the National Research Unit, Dr Nicole Schaad, and Scientific Adviser Dr Cyrille Girardin, visited the SCAHT at the University of Geneva. The visit was hosted by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences Geneva-Lausanne and took place in the recently opened Analytical Sciences laboratories at the Centre Médicale Universitaire which is home to a number of SCAHT-supported research groups. Read more.

Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz joins the SCAHT network as collaborator

The School of Life Sciences of the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz already has collaborations with the SCAHT through the Molecular Toxicology group headed by Prof Laura Suter-Dick, and has expressed an interest to join the SCAHT network. The application was reviewed by the SCAHT Management Board and approved by the Foundation Council at its meeting in November. Read more.

OpenTox Euro 2017

SCAHT Director Prof Martin Wilks chaired the session "Defined approaches towards regulatory acceptance" and Dr Rex FitzGerald gave a presentation on "Test guidelines, AOPs and IATA - current and future" at OpenTox Euro 2017, on 22nd November 2017 in Basel.

Award for Prof Luc Stoppini

BioAlps, the life science cluster of Western Switzerland - dedicated to promote scientific excellence and innovation - has awarded SCAHT group leader Prof Luc Stoppini with its 2017 prize in honor of his activities and contributions to the national and international Life Science community. The prize was presented on 21st November by the BioAlps President, Dr Benoit Dubuis, and Prof Nouria Hernandez, Rector of the University of Lausanne. Further information.

SCAHT member awarded poster prize

Congratulations to Elena Reale for winning the prize for best PhD poster on the combination of in vitro testing and in silico physiologically-based kinetic (PBK) modelling at the Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society of Toxicology which took place on 30th November and 1st December in Basel.

Research in SCAHT: AOP for Parkinsonian motor deficits published

A Working Group of the European Food Safety Authority Working Group has published a review article on the link between plant protection products and Parkinson’s disease and childhood leukaemia. This is based on the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) describing the toxicity mechanisms linking mitochondrial complex I inhibition and parkinsonian motor deficits. Part of the working group is Dr Florianne Monnet-Tschudi, affiliated with SCAHT and the University of Lausanne.