SCAHT Newsletter 05/2014 (December 2014)

Season's Greetings


The year 2014 has seen momentous changes for the SCAHT. In February the 'Foundation of the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology' was officially registered with the Registre du Commerce de Genève, giving the SCAHT its legal framework for the future. In November we celebrated the 5th anniversary of the SCAHT. In between, SCAHT staff and members have been busier than ever with research and regulatory projects, teaching and contributions to national and international activities in human health risk assessment. From all of us at SCAHT, a big thank you for making our anniversary year a great one! We wish you and your families a peaceful Christmas and a very happy New Year 2015, and look forward to continuing our successful collaboration.

Happy 5th Birthday, SCAHT!

Five years ago, with an inaugural symposium on 19 November 2009 in Geneva, the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology was born. To celebrate its 5th birthday, SCAHT held an anniversary symposium on 14 November 2014 in Basel, at the annual meeting of the Swiss Society of Toxicology. Toxicologists and honored guests listened to welcoming words from National Councillor Prof. Kathy Riklin, Prof. Stefan Krähenbühl, co-founder of the SCAHT, and Prof. Martin Wilks, the SCAHT director.  Keynote lectures were given by Prof. Alan Boobis and Prof. Angelo Moretto, both members of the SCAHT Science Advisory Board, and SCAHT Research Group Leaders presented overviews of their work on neuroinflammation, nanoparticle drug delivery, human steroid profiling, and development of in vitro cell cultures to replace animal testing. 

First graduate of the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Regulatory Sciences

SCAHT and the University of Basel are delighted to announce that Maria Eugenia Pagano, from Syngenta Brazil, is the first student to be awarded the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Regulatory Sciences. During the period October 2012 to September 2014, Maria successfully completed 5 modules from the programme. Maria was presented with her certificate via teleconference by the Head of Research & Development at Syngenta, Trish Malarkey, and the SCAHT Director Prof. Martin Wilks. We would all like to wish Maria continued success in the future.

Participation in Annual EPAA Conference

SCAHT attended the 10th annual conference of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal testing (EPAA) on the 19th November in Brussels. Over 100 stakeholders from academia, NGOs, industry and EU institutions attended the event to discuss how to facilitate the use of alternative methods by regulators. It is one of the objectives of the SCAHT to foster a collaborative working relationship between Swiss regulatory authorities and SCAHT researchers who also develop alternative testing methods.

Research in SCAHT: Bisphenol A - Why an adverse outcome pathway framework needs to be applied

Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most widely used and extensively studied chemicals. Numerous studies have reported in vitro effects or animal adverse findings at BPA doses lower than the no observed adverse effect levels (NOAELs) established in regulatory toxicity studies and used for human health risk assessment. Intensive discussions on the adequacy and relevance of test systems have not satisfactorily resolved whether positive or negative animal and/or in vitro findings are more relevant for human health risk assessment purposes. In this article for a special issue of Toxicology Letters on 'Environmental contaminants and target organ toxicities', SCAHT regulatory toxicologists Rex FitzGerald and Martin Wilks argue that a structured approach like the OECD Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework is needed to help researchers in designing relevant studies, and risk assessors in evaluating them. Establishing AOPs for BPA, and other endocrine active chemicals, will require major scientific as well as training investments by all responsible stakeholders. Further information.

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.