SCAHT Newsletter 03/2016

Three SCAHT groups have taken up their work on NanoReg II

NanoReg II is an EU Horizon 2020 project that aims to develop grouping approaches for nanomaterials to support efficient regulation and to guide product development through Safe-by-Design processes. Within the scope of this project the SCAHT groups of Jörg Huwyler and Luc Stoppini are developing new in vitro and in vivo test systems to identify potential correlations between physicochemical properties of nanomaterials and their toxicological endpoints. The SCAHT Regulatory Toxicology group is working on identifying the need for nano-specific modifications in existing regulatory frameworks.

SCAHT at the 52nd EUROTOX Meeting

The SCAHT was well represented at the 52nd EUROTOX meeting which was held on 4 - 7 September 2016 in Seville, Spain. The theme was “Protecting public and environmental health by understanding and communicating toxicology”. Martin Wilks gave a presentation in the session on “Integrating epidemiology and experimental toxicology to improve pesticide risk assessment”. The group of Stephan Krähenbühl was represented in the poster session, as were the groups of Luc Stoppini and Florianne Tschudi-Monnet in a joint collaboration, as well as Alex Odermatt with two posters, one in collaboration with Serge Rudaz. See programme for further information. At the Business Council meeting Martin Wilks was elected to the EUROTOX Executive Committee for a 3-year period.

OECD launches landmark series on Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) on 20 September 2016

In collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency EPA and the European Commission Joint Research Centre JRC, the OECD launched its knowledge-base on AOPs in 2014. Now, two years later, the first five endorsed AOPs have been published in a new OECD series on Adverse Outcome Pathways, available free of charge on the OECD public website. These publications are the result of joint efforts between AOP developers and reviewers through an established OECD AOP development and review process. The first publication in the series is a Users’ Handbook providing guidance for developing AOPs. In the future, the publication of endorsed AOPs is foreseen on a yearly basis, following the cycle of annual reviews and publications. For more information, please visit the OECD website on AOPs.

Research in SCAHT: Integrating human and ecological data quality assessment frameworks

As part of the EU FP7 Coordination action HEROIC, Nicolas Roth (SCAHT) and Philippe Ciffroy (EDF) review in this paper existing frameworks designed to evaluate the reliability and relevance of ecotoxicological and toxicological information for their use in chemical risk assessment. Based on a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their individual assessment methodology, the authors identify gaps and needs to explore to which extent these schemes could serve as a model for developing a common eco-human data quality assessment system as an input to further support the development and promotion of the concept of Integrated Risk Assessment.

SCAHT Newsletter 02/2016

SCAHT director to lead European Association of Poison Control Centres and Clinical Toxicologists

During the recent congress of the European Association of Poison Control Centres and Clinical Toxicologists (EAPCCT) in Madrid, the SCAHT director Prof Martin Wilks was elected President-elect of the association. He will take over as President for the term 2018 - 2020. Founded in 1964 with the specific goal of advancing knowledge and understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of all forms of poisonings, the EAPCCT has over 300 members from 56 countries across the world. It was also announced in Madrid that the next annual congress of the EAPCCT will be held in Basel from 16 - 19 May 2017.

EU critera for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

On 15 June, after a delay of more than 2 years, the European Commission presented draft scientific criteria to identify endocrine disruptors under pesticides and biocides legislation. Identification requires establishing a causal link between adverse effects on human health and an endocrine mode of action; health effects and mode of action should consider all relevant scientific evidence by robust systematic review, using a weight of evidence-based approach. See EU press release

The European Registered Toxicologist (ERT): current status and prospects for advancement

Over the last few years the EUROTOX sub-committees for registration and education, chaired by Bas Blaauboer, University of Utrecht, and SCAHT director Martin Wilks, respectively, have discussed with representatives of national toxicology societies and registers how to achieve further harmonisation of requirements and processes between national registering bodies as a prerequisite for official recognition of the ERT title as a standard. In order to take account of recent developments in toxicology, an update of the ERT Guidelines has been prepared in a series of workshops and this will be presented to EUROTOX for approval at the next congress in Seville in September. These developments and prospects for the future have been summarised in a commentary in the journal Toxicology Letters which is now available online.

Next MAS in Toxicology programme starts in September 2016

31 August 2016 is the application deadline for the Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Toxicology programme, starting September 2016. The programme is run by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Geneva and the University of Lausanne in collaboration with the SCAHT. It is a two year part-time study programme consisting of four day teaching blocks every three weeks over three semesters and requires students to write a Master’s thesis. Successful completion of the course is recognised as providing the theoretical knowledge for professional registration as a toxicologist by EUROTOX. There is a possibility to attend individual modules with free-student status if places are available. For prerequisites and further information click here.

Research in SCAHT: Exploring Omics data from designed experiments

Omics data analysis is challenging; there may be hundreds to thousands of correlated variables, but only a limited number of samples. To address this, the two SCAHT researchers Julien Boccard and Serge Rudaz propose a supervised multiblock algorithm based on the Orthogonal Partial Least Squares (OPLS) framework. They illustrate the utility of the approach with case studies (plant wounding metabolomics and drug-induced hepatotoxicity transcriptomics). Their approach enables easily interpreted outputs; signal variations are easily related to main effects or interaction terms, and biochemical information can be easily extracted from the investigation of loadings related to each significant effect, to select e.g. enriched subsets of metabolites/transcripts, or detect spectral zones of interest. See publication.

SCAHT Newsletter 1/2016

Highlight: Systems Toxicology Conference 2016 in Les Diablerets

SCAHT, in collaboration with the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), organised a three-day meeting on Systems Toxicology in Les Diablerets (Switzerland) on 27 - 29 January 2016 ( The meeting explored current and likely future specific applications of systems toxicology approaches in chemical risk evaluation. Building on the integration of in vitro and in vivo data with computational modeling, Systems Toxicology reflects a paradigm shift from empirical endpoints to modes of action and adverse outcome pathways. The meeting networked 80 participants from academia, industry and regulatory authorities, and included plenary lectures, poster sessions and interactive panel discussions. Based on the meeting, a position paper on the path forward for Systems Toxicology and selected application is planned.

Module 7 of CAS course on "Advancing Regulatory Toxicology in the 21st Century”

The final CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) teaching on the Regulatory Sciences programme will take place at the University of Basel from 13 - 17 June 2016. The module is designed to complement previous modules on the advanced study programme, or can be taken as a stand-alone teaching week. Further details can be found on the attached flyer. Please register on the following link.

Congratulations to CAS graduate

SCAHT would like to congratulate Helené Kettiger who successfully achieved sufficient credit points to be awarded a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Regulatory Sciences. Helené attended four of the CAS module teaching weeks and then submitted a special project all of which contributed to her being awarded the CAS.

Research in SCAHT: Perspectives for integrating human and environmental exposure assessments

As part of the EU-funded FP7 HEROIC Project (Health and Environmental Risks: Organization, Integration and Cross-fertilization of Scientific Knowledge, Grant Agreement no. 282896), which was coordinated by SCAHT, Nicolas Roth, scientific collaborator of the SCAHT, jointly with researchers at Electricité de France (EDF) and the French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks (INERIS), explored new opportunities to better harmonise and extrapolate exposure assessment data, models and methods between Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessments. The paper identifies perspectives and recommendations to support the further development and promotion of the concept of integrated risk assessment and its potential application in the regulatory decision-making process for chemicals at EU level. Further information.