SCAHT Newsletter 04/2014 (October 2014)

5th Anniversary of the SCAHT

On 14 November 2014 (at the Swiss Society of Toxicology annual meeting) we will hold a Symposium in Basel to mark the 5th anniversary of SCAHT. The SCAHT president, National Councillor Prof. Kathy Riklin, and the co-founder of the SCAHT, Prof. Stephan Krähenbühl, will give welcome addresses. Prof. Alan Boobis, Imperial College London, and Prof. Angelo Moretto, University of Milan, both members of the Science Advisory Board, have kindly agreed to give keynote lectures, and four of the SCAHT Group Leaders will give presentations on SCAHT core research projects. Please see the programme for further details. Register here.

SCAHT invited to give a spotlight session at the 14th annual AgChem-Forum

Lothar Aicher, Regulatory Toxicology Expert at the SCAHT, gave a spotlight lecture entitled „Integrated Risk Assessment – Can we do more with less?“ at the 14th annual AgChem-Forum in Barcelona, Spain, on 9 - 10 September 2014. The presentation was based on the insights gained from the EU FP-7 project HEROIC on integrated risk assessment, which is coordinated by the SCAHT and was part of a session with the focus on the development and implementation of alternative predictive methods for evaluating toxicology and exposure.

50th EUROTOX Congress

The 50th anniversary congress of EUROTOX took place in Edinburgh from 7 – 10 September 2014. Over 1400 delegates attended the symposia, workshops, roundtable discussions and poster sessions under the general theme of ‘Advancing science for human & environmental health’. The abstracts of the congress are published in a special issue of Toxicology Letters. SCAHT director Martin Wilks was re-elected for a further 3 year period to the EUROTOX sub-committee on education which he also chairs.

EFSA Scientific Colloquium N°21: Harmonisation of human and ecological risk assessment of combined exposure to multiple chemicals

Following the EUROTOX congress, some 120 delegates from regulatory bodies, industry and academia met for two days to discuss how the approaches to risk assessment in human and environmental risk assessment could be further harmonised in particular with regard to mixtures. The keynote lectures can be found on the EFSA website. Four discussion groups debated the approaches in the areas of hazard assessment, exposure assessment, modelling/new tools and uncertainty factor. A full report of the meeting is expected early next year.

OECD launches AOP-Wiki

25 September 2014: The OECD announces, together with the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Adverse Outcome Pathway Knowledge Base (AOP KB). This is a web-based platform which aims to bring together all knowledge on how chemicals can induce adverse effects, therefore providing a focal point for AOP development and dissemination. The first AOP KB module is the AOP Wiki: an interactive and virtual encyclopaedia for AOP development (details here).

Research in SCAHT: Hepatocellular toxicity of benzbromarone

This study describes the effects of benzbromarone on important mitochondrial metabolic pathways, and the functional and morphological consequences when these pathways are inhibited. The study therefore provides the mechanistic explanation for the clinical observation that some patients develop severe liver injury when treated with benzbromarone. Two SCAHT research groups were involved in this study: the group of S. Krähenbühl performed the functional studies and the group of A. Odermatt the ROS measurements. Furthermore, the group of P. Jenö performed the morphological analyses. Further information.

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.