SCAHT Newsletter 03/2015

SCAHT presented at the 15th Annual AgChem Forum in Barcelona

The 15th AgChem Forum conference 2015 which took place in Barcelona on 23 and 24 September 2015  is aimed at the agrichemical industry and regulators and was attended by 370 senior level attendees from 230+ companies, and 18 European Member State Authorities. Discussions focused on the development and implementation of new guidance documents and testing methods for both human and environmental safety. Lothar Aicher, member of the SCAHT regulatory toxicology group, was invited to give a presentation on the use of -omics technologies within the framework of regulatory human health risk assessment.

European 3R congress

EUSAAT, the European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing, held its annual conference in Linz, 20 - 23 September 2015 (see congress website). Topics included new technologies and new approaches including AOP in areas such as cosmetic testing and nanosafety. Switzerland was well represented by industry, NGO and academic researchers (BASF Schweiz, Biognosys, CSEM, DSM, Epithelix, Givaudan, InSphero, Nestlé, Novartis, OncoTheis, Philip Morris; Animalfree Research, Bern; EAWAG, EMPA, ETH, and Universities of Fribourg, Bern, Geneva and Basel / SCAHT).

Profs. Alex Odermatt and Serge Nef nominated as experts for external review of OECD AOPs

The OECD internal working group on AOPs (EAGMST) has approved the release of 8 AOPs for external review. For each AOP an OECD expert group with scientific expertise in the hazard area covered by a given AOP was built. Two SCAHT researchers have been nominated as external experts. Prof. Alex Odermatt, University of Basel, is reviewing the AOP on androgen receptor agonism leading to reproductive dysfunction and Prof. Serge Nef, University of Geneva, is evaluating the AOP on PPARα activation leading to impaired male fertility upon utero exposure. Further information.

AOP contributions

The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is offering up to three cash awards (totaling €7,000) to new contributors who add to existing entries in the AOP Wiki using available data. Contributions added to the AOP Wiki between 15 September 2015 and 15 March 2016 will be judged by the OECD AOP work group (EAGMST). Further information.

Research in SCAHT: Prenatal exposure to DEHP affects spermatogenesis and sperm DNA methylation in a strain-dependent manner

In a study funded by the SCAHT and the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG), Dr Ariane Giacobino and a team of researchers from Geneva University and University Hospital observed that prenatal exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) in two mouse strains significantly decreased spermatogenesis in one strain and not in the other. Treatment also strain-dependently affected genome wide sperm DNA methylation in promoters of large sets of genes putatively involved in both sperm chemotaxis and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. These results show that genetic background plays a role in the epigenetic changes linked to specific environmental exposures. Link to publication.

SCAHT Newsletter 02/2015

New SCAHT Research Coordinator

SCAHT welcomes Dr Jenny Sandström von Tobel who has started her position as SCAHT research coordinator on 1 August 2015, providing project management support to the research groups. Jenny's background is in molecular and cell biology and she has been working in the neurotoxicology research group of Dr Florianne Tschudi-Monnet in Lausanne as a postdoc since 2011. She has been an active participant in SCAHT research meetings and is therefore very familiar with the SCAHT network. This is a part-time appointment and Jenny will also continue to work in Florianne's group. 



OECD AOP update

OECD Paris hosted an AOP Training session on 16 June, and the AOP advisory group (EAGMST) meeting on 17 - 18 June 2015. Training covered creating an AOP in the AOP-Wiki, and weight of evidence/confidence analysis for key events and key event relationships. At the EAGMST meeting, 8 AOPs were approved for external review. Presentation topics included alignments with the OECD IATA program and the US EPA ToxCast and Endocrine Disruptor Screening Programs. Related video presentations can be found here.

Systems Toxicology 2016

Building on the highly successful 2013 conference in Ascona, the 2016 Systems Toxicology meeting, co-organised by SCAHT, will explore current and future applications in chemical risk evaluation. The three-day meeting will be held in the village and ski resort of Les Diablerets, Switzerland, from 27 - 29 January 2016. Further information.

CAS Module 6 "Modelling Approaches in Chemical Risk Assessment" - Registration now open

Registration for the next course of the CAS Regulatory Sciences program is now open. Module 6 "Modelling Approaches in Chemical Risk Assessment" will take place from 30 November to 4 December 2015 at the University of Basel. Further details on content and registration.

SCAHT goes to South America

Following the successful regulatory sciences course held in 2013, SCAHT was approached to organize a one-week course in regulatory toxicology adapted to the needs of Brazilian scientists concerned with the registration of agrochemicals. The course was held from 29 June - 3 July in Brasilia with 28 participants from the regulatory authority, the agrochemical industry, and Brazilian and Columbian universities. The faculty included Rex FitzGerald and Martin Wilks from SCAHT as well as Neil Byron (Exponent) and Elizabeth de Souza Nascimento (University of Sao Paulo). The course was well received by the participants, and the hope was expressed that similar courses could be conducted elsewhere in South America.

Research in SCAHT: Acute health problems due to recreational drug use

Dr. Liakoni and Prof. Liechti from the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the University Hospital Basel investigated acute medical problems due to recreational substance use in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED). Among the 47.767 attendances at the ED during one year, 216 were directly related to acute toxicity of recreational drugs. The most common recreational drugs were cocaine and cannabis. During the study period only 2 cases were related to the use of novel psychoactive substances. The most commonly reported symptoms were tachycardia (31%), anxiety (27%), nausea or vomiting (23%), and agitation (22%). Additionally, there were two cases of myocardial infarction, 10 cases of seizures, and 10 cases of psychosis. Among all cases 40 (19%) presented with severe intoxication and there was one fatality. Emergency department presentations associated with novel psychoactive substances appear to be relatively rare. Further information.

SCAHT Newsletter 01/2015

SCAHT head office has moved

In April 2015 the SCAHT moved into new premises which are located at

Missionsstrasse 64
CH-4055 Basel

(telephone and email remain unchanged)

not too far from the old offices. Please feel free to drop by for a visit.





Participation in CAAT Meeting

SCAHT participated in "Meet your Scientist", the MEP-3Rs Scientists Pairing Scheme, in Brussels on 27 January 2015. The meeting, organised by the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing-Europe (CAAT-Europe), took place at the CAAT Europe office and the EU Parliament; industry and academic scientists networked and discussed with MEPs the use of alternatives to animal testing and new technologies to better ensure consumer protection while minimizing or replacing animal use.

Module 6 "Modelling Approaches in Regulatory Sciences" of CAS Programme

SCAHT wishes to announce its next course of the CAS Regulatory Sciences programme which will take place from 30th November to 4th December 2015 at the University of Basel. If you are interested in attending the module please let us know as soon as possible by contacting Further information and registration for the module will be available at a later date. 

Serge Rudaz and Youssef Daali nominated as members of the OECD expert group on biotransformation assays

SCAHT contributes to the development of the OECD test guideline program in the new area of in vitro biotransformation assays. SCAHT research leaders Serge Rudaz and Youssef Daali participated in an Expert Group Meeting on Biotransformation Assays, 11 - 12 May 2015 at OECD, Paris. They discussed comments on the draft Test Guideline on human derived hepatic systems for biotransformation and toxicity of chemicals by induction of CYP-450.

Research in SCAHT: SCAHT contribution to safety evaluation of nano-materials published

The key findings of a workshop jointly organized by the Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology, the SCAHT and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) have been published. The paper provides a critical analysis of the current regulatory framework for nanomaterials and a snapshot of some hot topics in nanoscience. Further information.