SCAHT Newletter 01/2018

SOT 2018 Annual Meeting attracts more than 6,100 scientists

More than 6,100 scientists participated in the SOT 57th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, the largest toxicological congress in the world, held 11 - 15 March 2018, in San Antonio, Texas. Many of the 170-plus Scientific Sessions, including 2,500 poster presentations, and 14 Continuing Education courses provided a look at the future of toxicological research and its applications, not least in the regulatory arena. Of special interest to regulatory toxicologists were sessions on systematic reviews, in particular in areas of scientific controversy (e.g. endocrine disruptors, low-dose effects) and the regulatory application of mechanism-based toxicology such as the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach. The latter topic was also controversially and enjoyably discussed in the traditional SOT/EUROTOX debate. The full program is available from the meeting website.

Report from the Swiss Biobanking Platform Conference

The Swiss Biobanking Platform held its first official conference titled “Visions for Innovation” on 1 Feburary 2018 in Lausanne. A number of distinguished national and international experts in the field presented their visions and foreseen challenges for using biobanks in cutting edge research. Panel discussions covered major challenges like biobanking sustainability and longevity, ensuring samples accessibility restricted to the appropriate research questions, and promoting harmonisation procedures and high-quality standards, all within required frameworks of ethical, legal and social dimensions.

New staff at the SCAHT regulatory toxicology unit

We are happy to announce that Blanca Suarez has joined the SCAHT regulatory toxicology team from 1 March 2018. Blanca takes over the responsibilities of Jenny Sandström von Tobel in her role as work package contributor to the Horizon2020 NanoReg2 project. Blanca obtained a doctorate in human molecular genetics from the University of Oxford UK in 1999, and has subsequently gathered a wealth of experience in the regulatory environment, particularly related to nanosafety. She has coordinated large groups of partners through work package leadership in various FP7 and H2020 projects under the umbrella of the nano medicine and nano safety cluster. Blanca currently holds a position as head of technology and expertise at TEMAS Consulting, but will dedicate 50% of her time to support the SCAHT activities in the NanoReg2 project.

Research in SCAHT: AOP-based non-animal testing for developmental neurotoxicity (DNT)

A new publication by Bal-Price et al 2018 arises from the second ISTNET workshop (International Stakeholder Network on DNT testing) in Konstanz, Germany in 2017. It represents a collaborative effort by groups from academia, industry and regulatory bodies (including SCAHT researchers) to encourage the regulatory use of alternative (3R) methods for chemical screening and prioritisation. It describes quality and performance standards for in vitro tests which measure key developmental processes (key events in DNT adverse outcome pathways = AOPs) such as neurogenesis, migration and differentiation, up to neuronal network formation. Further information.

SCAHT Newsletter 03/2017

Season's Greetings

candleDear friends and supporters of the SCAHT,
The final newsletter of the year 2017 highlights two events of significant importance for the SCAHT. The first is the visit by the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation to the SCAHT, the second is the admission of the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz as a new collaborator institution of the SCAHT. Both events underline the recognition of the SCAHT as a successful research infrastructure in Switzerland and provide additional motivation to our research, education and regulatory toxicology efforts.
As we reflect on another positive and exciting year for the SCAHT we would like to thank you and your colleagues for your encouragement and support throughout the year. We wish you and your families a relaxing and peaceful festive season, and a very happy New Year 2018.
            Martin Wilks and the SCAHT team

Visit by the State Secretary to SCAHT

On 29th November, the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Dr Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, together with the Head of the National Research Unit, Dr Nicole Schaad, and Scientific Adviser Dr Cyrille Girardin, visited the SCAHT at the University of Geneva. The visit was hosted by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences Geneva-Lausanne and took place in the recently opened Analytical Sciences laboratories at the Centre Médicale Universitaire which is home to a number of SCAHT-supported research groups. Read more.

Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz joins the SCAHT network as collaborator

The School of Life Sciences of the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz already has collaborations with the SCAHT through the Molecular Toxicology group headed by Prof Laura Suter-Dick, and has expressed an interest to join the SCAHT network. The application was reviewed by the SCAHT Management Board and approved by the Foundation Council at its meeting in November. Read more.

OpenTox Euro 2017

SCAHT Director Prof Martin Wilks chaired the session "Defined approaches towards regulatory acceptance" and Dr Rex FitzGerald gave a presentation on "Test guidelines, AOPs and IATA - current and future" at OpenTox Euro 2017, on 22nd November 2017 in Basel.

Award for Prof Luc Stoppini

BioAlps, the life science cluster of Western Switzerland - dedicated to promote scientific excellence and innovation - has awarded SCAHT group leader Prof Luc Stoppini with its 2017 prize in honor of his activities and contributions to the national and international Life Science community. The prize was presented on 21st November by the BioAlps President, Dr Benoit Dubuis, and Prof Nouria Hernandez, Rector of the University of Lausanne. Further information.

SCAHT member awarded poster prize

Congratulations to Elena Reale for winning the prize for best PhD poster on the combination of in vitro testing and in silico physiologically-based kinetic (PBK) modelling at the Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society of Toxicology which took place on 30th November and 1st December in Basel.

Research in SCAHT: AOP for Parkinsonian motor deficits published

A Working Group of the European Food Safety Authority Working Group has published a review article on the link between plant protection products and Parkinson’s disease and childhood leukaemia. This is based on the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) describing the toxicity mechanisms linking mitochondrial complex I inhibition and parkinsonian motor deficits. Part of the working group is Dr Florianne Monnet-Tschudi, affiliated with SCAHT and the University of Lausanne.

SCAHT Newsletter 02/2017

SCAHT research retreat well attended and received

On August 28 and 29 the annual SCAHT Research Meeting was held in Montezillon (Neuchâtel). The event gathered researchers from all institutions participating in the SCAHT, as well as representatives from the Swiss regulatory authorities, for scientific discussions on the status and development of the research activities within the SCAHT. Professor Nicole Probst-Hensch from SwissTPH in Basel was the guest speaker and provided insights for SCAHT researchers on the use of epidemiological data in toxicology research. The event also provided a forum for in depth discussions on ongoing activities within the Core Projects, strengthening the SCAHT collaborative network.

EFSA BPA public consultation

Rex FitzGerald from SCAHT has participated in a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) working group developing a scientific protocol for an updated risk assessment of Bisphenol A in 2018. The EFSA held a public consultation on the draft protocol (an EFSA premiere!), followed up by a meeting with its contributors on 14 September in Brussels, at which feedback and additional comments were discussed and consolidated. More details.

53rd Congress of the European Societies of Toxicology

This year’s EUROTOX congress took place in Bratislava from 10 - 13 September and was attended by some 1200 delegates. There were 5 continuing education sessions and 32 symposia and workshops as well as keynote lectures and debates. SCAHT research featured in a symposium on neuroimmune interactions where Elena Reale presented an invited lecture on challenges in using markers of neuroinflammation for hazard identification. SCAHT director Martin Wilks stepped down as Chair of the EUROTOX education subcommittee after completing his second term. He will continue to serve on the EUROTOX executive committee. Further information on the congress can be found here.

MAS Food Safety module

From October 17 to 19, SCAHT is running for the third time a training module on toxicology as part of a continuing education programme in the area of food safety jointly offered by the University of Basel and the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland  (HES-SO Valais). The programme has a modular structure and allows students to acquire a Master, a Diploma or a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Food Safety Management.

Research in SCAHT: In vitro liver

Chronic liver disease due to fibrosis is a major cause of mortality globally. The group of Laura Suter-Dick, professor at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, has recently developed a new 3D in vitro human liver cell model in which fibrosis can be induced. This new model will enable animal-free studies of liver fibrosis mechanisms and testing of potential therapeutic drugs. Further information on this publication.