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.

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.