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National Toxicology Program

National Toxicology Program

UPDATE NewsletterUPDATE NewsletterOctober 2021

The NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM)

By Cathy Sprankle

SACATM meeting focuses on ecotoxicity, method validation

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods (SACATM) met virtually on September 28-29. SACATM is a federally chartered external advisory group of scientists from the public and private sectors that advises the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), NICEATM, and the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and NTP regarding statutorily mandated duties of ICCVAM and activities of NICEATM.

This year’s SACATM meeting was attended by nearly 160 viewers on September 28, with 120 viewers joining on September 29. The meeting was structured to allow detailed discussion of two topics of current interest to ICCVAM: reducing or replacing animal use for ecotoxicity testing and new approaches to validation of new testing methods. SACATM members also provided feedback on NICEATM computational resources, praising the progress made over the last year on the continued development of the Integrated Chemical Environment.

In the area of ecotoxicity testing, the advisory committee and public commenters recognized the reductions of animal use that have been accomplished by ICCVAM agencies establishing waiver guidelines. They encouraged agencies to continue and broaden the retrospective studies that have made waivers possible. Commenters also praised ongoing efforts to use computational and high-throughput technologies to improve cross-species extrapolation and develop more predictive approaches to ecotoxicity assessments.

The discussion of new approaches to validation noted the limitations of using animal data to assess the validity of new testing approaches and the advantages of validation approaches based on human toxicity mechanisms and human data. The advisory committee encouraged ICCVAM to support improved communication among regulators, test method developers, and industries that use test methods, and to take steps to improve awareness of availability of accepted test methods.

Presentation slides, videos, and minutes from the meeting will be posted on the NTP website when available.

NICEATM presents webinar series on skin sensitization

NICEATM is partnering with the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs to present a webinar series on “Current Concepts in Quantitative Risk Assessment for Skin Sensitization.”

Over 180 viewers attended the first webinar in the series on September 21. This webinar featured David Basketter, DABMEB Consultancy Ltd., speaking on the history and current status of skin sensitization testing, and Wolfgang Uter, University of Erlangen-Nurnberg, discussing the epidemiology of contact dermatitis with a focus on occupational exposure and monitoring. A video from the webinar will be posted on the NTP website when available.

The next webinar in the series on Wednesday, December 8, will consider the topics of methods for skin sensitization hazard and potency determination using currently available non-animal test methods, as well as exposure assessment and quantification. The webinar is free and open to the public. Those who registered to view the first webinar will be automatically registered for the second webinar; others may register on the NTP website.

NICEATM contributes to new features in QSAR Toolbox

NICEATM projects have contributed to improvements in the latest update of QSAR Toolbox. QSAR Toolbox is a free software application for use by governments, the chemical industry, and other stakeholders for filling gaps in toxicity data needed for assessing the hazards of chemicals. The application was developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in close collaboration with the European Chemicals Agency.

QSAR Toolbox version 4.5 includes an automated workflow for defined approaches for skin sensitization based on the recently released OECD Guideline 497. NICEATM sponsored development of Guideline 497 in collaboration with other U.S. government agencies and scientists from Canada and the European Union. The QSAR Toolbox update also includes human skin sensitization data for over 1000 substances that was compiled by NICEATM and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.

NICEATM activities at ASCCT annual meeting

The annual meeting of the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology (ASCCT) will be held virtually from October 12-14. The overarching theme for this year’s meeting is “Practical Applications of New Tools in Toxicology.” The agenda will include five sessions of oral presentations, posters, and other engagement opportunities. The meeting is free and open to the public but registration is required by October 8.

A list of NICEATM activities at ASCCT is available on the NTP website. NICEATM scientists and ILS contractors supporting NICEATM will be presenting four oral presentations and nine posters.

Paper describes new and updated ICE tools

A new paper in Computational Toxicology describes recent updates to the Integrated Chemical Environment (ICE). ICE provides data and computational tools to support chemical safety testing, allowing a broad range of users to interact with annotated and curated data. This paper includes an overview of the newest ICE tool, Chemical Quest, which allows users to search within the extensive ICE database for structurally similar chemicals to a target chemical or substructure.

Abedini et al. 2021. Application of new approach methodologies: ICE tools to support chemical evaluations. Comput Toxicol.

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The Update Newsletter is produced by NTP Office of Policy, Review, and Outreach. The text is not copyrighted and can be reprinted without permission. If you use parts of the Update Newsletter in your publication, we ask that you provide us with a copy for our records. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Director of Office of Policy, Review, and Outreach and Editor-in-Chief: Mary Wolfe | Managing Editor: Anna Lee Mosley