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National Toxicology Program

National Toxicology Program

UPDATE NewsletterUPDATE NewsletterNovember 2022

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

By Catherine Sprankle

NICEATM releases ICE 3.7.1

On October 7, NICEATM released version 3.7.1 of the Integrated Chemical Environment (ICE). ICE provides data and tools to help develop, assess, and interpret chemical safety tests. Key features implemented in ICE 3.7.1 are:

The 3.7.1 update also includes bug fixes to optimize functioning of the ICE website.

Symposium webinar considers population variability and susceptible populations

On October 26 and 27, NICEATM hosted the symposium webinar, “Using New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) to Address Variability and Susceptibility Across Populations.” The virtual event attracted over 250 attendees representing government, academia, and a diversity of industrial and nongovernmental sectors. An interdisciplinary group of over 50 members was invited to participate in a discussion session following the symposium. Slides and video from the symposium will be made available on the NTP website once they are formatted to meet government guidelines for accessibility.

Speakers at the symposium highlighted information needs for population variability and susceptibility and considered where NAMs could be designed or improved to fill those needs. Case studies highlighted how NAMs (in vitro tests, in silico predictions, and tests using non-mammalian organisms) could be applied to address population variability and susceptibility factors such as life stage, genetics, comorbidities, lifestyle, and mixed exposures.

An important goal of the event was to initiate conversations among representatives of government, industry, academia, and the environmental justice community, so that collectively they might listen, learn, and build trust. Discussion participants stressed the importance of risk assessment activities being designed to protect all populations, especially the most vulnerable. In particular risk assessments should address cumulative exposure from both chemical and non-chemical stressors. The discussions identified barriers and opportunities for follow-up workshops that will address scientific, regulatory, and community perspectives and foster interdisciplinary collaborations to develop and implement the best, most responsive science in this area.

In advance of the symposium NICEATM and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) co-hosted a webinar series to share background information. More information about the webinar series and recordings of past webinars are available on the PCRM website.

OPERA now accessible via QSAR Toolbox

OPERA is now available as an extension to the QSAR Toolbox. The QSAR Toolbox was co-developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Chemicals Agency to support animal-free chemical hazard assessment.

OPERA is a free and open-source/open-data suite of quantitative structure-activity relationship models that provides predictions for physicochemical properties, environmental fate parameters, absorption/distribution/metabolism/excretion parameters, and toxicity endpoints. OPERA is an ongoing collaboration between NICEATM and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on an ongoing basis is maintained and updated with additional models, data, and features.

NICEATM and ICCVAM activities at ASCCT

NICEATM and the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) had a strong presence at the October 19-21 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology (ASCCT).  A page on the NTP website lists NICEATM’s and ICCVAM’s activities. ICCVAM co-chair Anna Lowit spoke on “Weighing the Evidence in Safety Evaluation and Risk Assessment: Data Considerations and the Potential for NAM Integration” in a continuing education course. In total, NICEATM scientists gave three platform presentations and NICEATM and ICCVAM scientists coauthored 20 posters.

Recent NICEATM publication

  • A new paper describes a workflow that integrates human ambient exposures to inhaled chemicals with curated hazard data from high-throughput screening assays to identify counties where exposure to the local chemical mixture may affect a common biological target. This workflow demonstrates how new approach methodologies can be used to predict early-stage biological perturbations that could lead to adverse health outcomes from exposure to chemical mixtures. Acting NICEATM Director Nicole Kleinstreuer and Agnes Karmaus (Inotiv, contractor supporting NICEATM) are coauthors on the paper.
    Eccles KM et al. 2022. A geospatial modeling approach to quantifying the risk of exposure to environmental chemical mixtures via a common molecular target. Sci Total Environ. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158905.

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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