SCAHT Newsletter 03/2014 (June 2014)

SCAHT at the "Café Scientifique" of the University of Basel

SCAHT presented some aspects of human toxicology at the "Café Scientifique", an informal information and discussion event for the general public, on 18 May 2014 in the Pharma Museum Basel. The theme was "Kunststoff: Eine Erfolgsgeschichte?" ("Plastic: a success story?"). Panelists were Bernhard Wehrli, Eawag Dübendorf; Nico Bruns, University of Fribourg, and Rex FitzGerald, SCAHT Basel. The event was chaired by Christoph Keller, Swiss Radio SRF2 Kultur. Programme here.

17th European Symposium on Radiopharmacy and Radiopharmaceuticals (ESRR)

Rex FitzGerald (SCAHT) gave a talk entitled "Preclinical safety testing of diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals - regulatory requirements" (presentation here) at the 17th European Symposium on Radiopharmacy and Radiopharmaceuticals which took place in Pamplona, Spain, on 24 - 27 April 2014. The meeting, organised by the European Association of Nuclear Medicine, was attended by about 200 participants from 34 countries. More information.

SCAHT presents at the Seeländische Wasserversorgung (SWG)

The Seeländische Wasserversorgung Gemeindeverband Worben (SWG) ensures the water supply of 20 local communities. Every year, the SWG invites its stakeholders to an information-sharing event to discuss new challenges for water suppliers and consumers. This year’s meeting was attended by more than 60 representatives from local governments and board members and management of the SWG. Lothar Aicher (SCAHT) gave a key note lecture on human health risk assessment for micropollutants in drinking water. A general introduction to the basic principles of human health risk assessment and the particular challenges of micropollutants in drinking water was followed by a plenary discussion on specific questions related to drinking water safety.

Operator and consumer exposure (CAS module 4) - a few places are still available

Please note that a few places on the upcoming Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) module organised by SCAHT and the Advanced Study Centre of the University of Basel, Module 4 "Operator and consumer exposure" are STILL AVAILABLE. Dates: Monday 23rd June - Friday 27th June 2014 (5 days). Location: University of Basel, Switzerland. See flyer for further details and the link to the online registration process.

Risk perception and risk communication (CAS module 5) - registration is now open

SCAHT and the Advanced Study Centre of the University of Basel are pleased to announce that registrations for Module 5 "Risk perception and risk communication" of the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Regulatory Sciences are now open. Please be advised that numbers for this module are limited to 20 therefore early registration is recommended. Dates: Tuesday 16th September - Saturday 20th September 2014 (5 days). Location: University of Basel, Switzerland. See flyer for further details and the link to the online registration process.

Research in SCAHT: Drug overdose seizures

This study was conducted in the context of a thesis by Cornelia Reichert for the degree of MAS in Toxicology. It is a retrospective review of 15,441 cases of overdose with pharmaceutical drugs reported to the Swiss Toxicological Information Centre in Zürich between 1997 and 2010, including 313 cases with seizures. Antidepressants and other drugs, most frequently mefenamic acid, were associated with seizures. Adolescents were more likely to develop seizures than adults after mefenamic acid overdose. For the treating physician it is important to know which drugs are most frequently associated with seizures and it can help in managing the patient with an overdose. Further information.

SCAHT Newsletter 02/2014 (April 2014)

Scientific basis for regulating nanomaterials

The regulation of nanomaterials is a challenge for the authorities. A workshop of the Ecotox Centre in cooperation with SCAHT which took place on 20 - 21 January 2014 informed about the state of knowledge with regard to exposure, effects and evaluation of nanomaterials and worked out recommendations for action (further information). The results of the workshop will be published by the Ecotox Centre in mid-May. Look out for this in the SCAHT news section.

Next CAS module: Operator and consumer exposure

SCAHT and the Advanced Study Centre of the University of Basel are pleased to announce that registrations for Module 4 "Operator and consumer exposure" of the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Regulatory Sciences is now open. Please be advised that numbers are limited to 25 therefore early registration is recommended. Dates: Monday 23 June - Friday 27 June 2014 (5 days). Location: University of Basel, Switzerland. See flyer for further details and the link to the online registration process.

SCAHT participated in ISTNET neurotoxicity workshop

SCAHT is a member of the steering committee of ISTNET, the International Stakeholder Network for creating a (Developmental) Neurotoxicity Testing Roadmap (further information). An ISTNET (Developmental) neurotoxicity Workshop was held on 23 - 24 January 2014 at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zürich, Irchel, Switzerland. An expert panel included representatives of regulatory bodies and test developers from academia and industry. This meeting served as a starting point for discussion between scientists from academia and industry and scientists from regulatory bodies to define the requirements for in vitro NT/DNT toxicity tests suitable for regulatory purpose. 

Contribution to OECD test guideline program

SCAHT participated in the 26th annual meeting of the Working Group of the National Coordinators for the OECD test guidelines program (WNT 26) that took place from 8 - 11 April at OECD headquarters in Paris. The WNT drafts and finally approves all new and revised test guidelines and guidance documents. Upon request of the federal office of public health (FOPH) the SCAHT is supporting the Swiss National Coordinator for human health aspects of the OECD TGP. During the 05/2013 -04/2014 period we received 40 requests to comment on draft test guidelines, draft guidance documents, and discussion papers. The main focus of the Swiss comments during the previous commenting period was on skin and eye irritation/corrosion, skin sensitisation and genotoxicity testing. Together with the EU ECVAM, Switzerland has also taken the co-lead to develop a new test guideline for in vitro skin sensitisation in September 2013. The Swiss comments submitted to the WNT 26 were well received and integrated into the new versions of the test guidelines. Similarly the draft test guideline for skin sensitisation received strong positive feedback. 

Research in SCAHT: Activation of Nrf2 in keratinocytes causes chloracne (MADISH)-like skin disease in mice

Chloracne (or MADISH; “metabolizing acquired dioxin-induced skin hamartomas”) is a cardinal sign of dioxin (TCDD) poisoning in humans.  This study conducted at ETH Zürich identifies Nrf2 activation as a key downstream event in the pathway from dioxin exposure to chloracne development. Transgenic mice with permanently activated Nrf2 developed skin changes that were similar to those in dioxin victims, and Nrf2 was found to be activated in human skin and MADISH biopsies contributed by SCAHT researchers JH Saurat, G Kaya, and O Sorg.  These data may help in identifying human biomarkers of dioxin exposure, and in assessing the risks of Nrf2-activating drugs which are used for skin protection and for cancer prevention. Further information.

SCAHT Newsletter 01/2014 (February 2014)

The Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT) is delighted to inform you that it is entering a new and exciting phase in its development. Hosted by the University of Geneva and supported by the Universities of Basel and Lausanne, the Foundation of the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology was formally endorsed on 6 February 2014 during the first meeting of the newly created Foundation Council which elected National Councillor Kathy Riklin as its President.

Picture from left to right: Michael Matthes, Thomas Weiser, Hugo Kupferschmidt, Peter Kälin, Denis Hochstrasser, Kathy Riklin, Edwin Constable, Patrice Mangin, Inge Werner.

While maintaining the strong links with the participating universities, the new structure will provide the legal framework and long-term stability for the SCAHT to pursue its mission of advising authorities, promoting research, and providing education and training in human toxicology and risk assessment.

We have taken the opportunity of our new status to redesign our visual identity and external presence, starting with a new website ( This is not just a cosmetic exercise; we have completely revised the structure and updated the information provided. We hope that you will take the time to browse through the pages and discover something new and useful, and we are keen to have your feedback!

I would like to thank the SCAHT staff, researchers, teachers and external partners for the support and trust shown to us in the first years of our existence, and look forward to extending and strengthening our collaboration for the benefit of human health protection.

Martin Wilks