18-22 February 2019: UCLouvain-BelTox Course – First Module on Principles of Toxicology

The first course module on Principles of Toxicology, jointly organized by BelTox and UCLouvain, took place in the week of February 18th 2019 at the Louvain House on the University campus of Louvain-la-Neuve. The training programme (UCL_BelTox course programme) consisted of a theoretical part (3.5 days) and a practical part (1.5). The theoretical part covered most essential sub-disciplines of toxicological sciences given by lecturers experts in each respective field.

The course was attended by 18 participants from industry, consultation, authorities and academia. Their background was very diverse and ranged from civil engineer to medical doctor. The feedback was very positive. Especially the practical exercises (one with a pharmaceutical led by Miranda Cornet and one with an industrial chemical led by Mark Martens) were very much appreciated. Beside the practical exercises that were given during the course, a home work will also be completed by the end of March. This home work consists of a 10-20 page manuscript on a subject in toxicology selected by the participants and discussed with Dominique Lison during the afternoon of the last day of the course. An attendance certificate of this course will be procured when the home work is delivered. The course organization promised to provide feedback to the participants on their manuscripts.

Photos of the course

2-5 September 2018: EUROTOX Congress

It is with great pleasure that BelTox looks back on the Eurotox 2018 meeting in Brussels, the biggest event ever hosted and organized by BelTox. With more than 1500 participants from 61 nations, 67 exhibitors and nearly 750 abstracts, the meeting was an absolute success. Several years of preparation by a dedicated and motivated team resulted in an optimal outcome.

Our sincere thanks go to everyone who participated in making this event a true success. We think in the first place of the Local Organizing Committee which was chaired with master’s hand by Dominique Lison.

The congress theme “Toxicology out of the box” reflected our willingness and enthusiasm to offer an innovative, forward-looking and imaginative scientific programme. We were very happy to see so many presentations submitted by Belgian colleagues being enrolled in the programme. The programme certainly kept its promises and BelTox can be proud of the scientific quality of the Eurotox 2018 meeting. It offered attractive lectures with well-balanced input from academia, industry and regulators. The feedback received from many participants was unanimously positive.

It goes without saying that it was heartwarming to see such a high number of BelTox members attending the Eurotox congress. Through the quality of their research, many of them contributed to the scientific quality of the meeting and put the Belgian toxicology community in the picture. A big thank to all invited speakers, poster presenters and sponsors; well done everyone !

Finally, we would also like to highlight the friendly and relaxed atmosphere at the social events organized before, during or after the congress. They were all perfect examples of the Belgian hospitality and savoir-vivre, combining entertainment, socializing and gastronomy. Especially the congress dinner at Autoworld benefited from a renewed interest and was highly appreciated. The social events provided a wealth of opportunities and the ideal environment to build new or to reinforce existing networks and therefore achieved their goal.

Hosting the most important European event in the field of toxicology in Brussels a great journey and experience. A warm thank you to all who contributed in one way or another to the success of Eurotox 2018 in Brussels !

1 December 2017: Annual scientific meeting on “Application of Toxicokinetics and Exposure Assessment in Toxicology and Ecotoxicology”

The BelTox annual scientific meeting of 2017 was held in the Justus Lipsius auditorium of the KULeuven (Erasmushuis, Leuven) on December 1st (Click here to view the photos). The theme of the meeting was the role of pharmaco(toxico)kinetics and biomonitoring in the interpretation of toxicology and ecotoxicology data. There were 101 participants and from the positive feedback received after the meeting it can be called a successful meeting.  The intention of this meeting was not to address pharmacokinetics in detail but to give the audience an overview of all the domains in health and environmental safety sciences where kinetics are essential in the right interpretation of data. After the word of welcome by the president of BelTox, Miranda Cornet, the meeting was introduced by Mark Martens (BelTox) with a short presentation on the terminology of (bio)kinetics and examples of the impact of kinetics and metabolism on the interpretation of toxicity data of pharmaceuticals. The first key note presentation was given by Bas Blaauboer (University Utrecht) on biokinetic modelling and quantitative in vitro to in vivo extrapolations in risk assessment followed by Sylvia Jacobi (Albemarle) who gave an overview of the use of toxicokinetic data in bioaccumulation assessment. After the coffee break, a second key note presentation was given by John Acquavella (University Aarhus) on the use of urine biomonitoring and pharmacokinetics for the estimation of systemic exposure of pesticides in farmers and its implications on epidemiologic research. The last presentation of the morning was given by Pieter Annaert (KULeuven) who explained the role of peptide transporters in the interpretation of hepatic drug disposition and toxicity. The General Assembly of BelTox was held just before lunchtime.  Mark Martens (Secretary of BelTox) gave an overview of a busy 2017 and forthcoming activities in 2018 of which the EUROTOX2018 congress in Brussels is the most important event. The BelTox budget showed a healthy surplus of income over expenditure, with many thanks to the sponsors of BelTox. During coffee and lunch breaks posters were on display of the young scientists competition. The afternoon started with six presentations of the young scientists competition on respiratory hazard assessment, occupational exposure assessment, metabolic activity of fish embryos, mutagenicity of food contact substances, thyroid function in newborns and the determination of cysteine adducts in plasma. The meeting was continued in the afternoon with Mark Penney (UCB) who gave an overview of the contribution of pharmacokinetics in the development of biopharmaceutical drugs followed by Marieke Voets (Janssen Pharmaceutica) who introduced the audience in the use of preclinical pharmacokinetic information to predict human kinetics by modelling. The last speaker of the afternoon session was Cathy Debier (UCL) with a presentation on the monitoring of POPs in adipose tissue and plasma of marine mammals during various stages of the life cycle to study the release of fat soluble pollutants from body lipid stores. The juries of the young scientist competition of the oral presentations and posters selected the 2 best presentations and 2 best posters who received a diploma and money prize from Dries Knapen at the end of the meeting:

Best oral presentations:

  1. Evy Verbueken (UAntwerp): Localization of cytochrome P450 activity in the zebrafish embryo and larva.
  2. Lisa Delahaye (UGent): Volumetric absorptive microsampling for the combined determination of paracetamol and its cysteine adduct.

Best poster presentations:

  1. Eleonora Scarcello (UCLouvain): Reactive Oxygen Species: the hidden face of biodegradable Fe-based materials?
  2. Thi Que Doan (ULG): Exposure to mixtures of Persistent Organic Pollutants  (POPs) can reduce the transactivation activities of Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) in vitro.
  3. Deniz Öner (KULeuven): Global and gene promoter DNA methylation alterations after asbestos exposure, in vitro.

25 October 2017: BelTox Advanced Toxicology Course: Embryo-fetal Development Toxicity Testing

BelTox organized an advanced toxicology course on “Embryo-fetal Developmental toxicity Testing” on 25th October 2017 at the WIV-ISP in Brussels. Fifty participants attended the course and came from Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. The speakers and coaches for the practical exercise were experienced toxicologists from academia, industry, government institutions and consulting. The morning session chaired by Philippe Vanparys (Gentoxicon) started with a presentation on the biology of embryo-fetal development in rats and rabbits and how this relates to humans (Steven Van Cruchten, UAntwerpen). Thereafter, in vivo testing of embryo-fetal development in rats and rabbits was presented (Birgit Peter, Charles River) and the relevance of findings in these species to humans was discussed (Dirk Mariën, Janssen Pharmaceutica). The morning session ended with a presentation on the regulatory aspects of embryo-fetal development toxicity testing (Marie-Noëlle Blaude, WIV-ISP). The afternoon chaired by Eric Van Miert (Solvay), was devoted to alternatives for animal testing using whole embryo cultures (Geneviève Van Maele, UCL), zebrafish (Hilda Witters, VITO) and embryonal stem cells (Jochem Luisse, Wageningen University). The participants were then split in working groups for a practical exercise chaired by Graham Bailey (Janssen Pharmaceutica). Two study cases were presented after which working groups analysed the results, discussed at the closure of the course. The feedback was positive to very positive for as well the structure as the content of course. The case studies part of the course was very much appreciated and helped the participants to analyse the results and to come to conclusion.

11 May 2017: BelTox Workshop on Non-clinical Safety Assessment of Biopharmaceuticals

The 5th BelTox Workshop on Non-clinical Safety Assessment of Biopharmaceuticals took place on Thursday 11 May 2017 at Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Beerse (Belgium). This time, emphasis was on the interpretation of toxicological findings in animal studies with biopharmaceutical compounds and their relevance to man. The format of the workshop remained similar to the previous ones; i.e. lectures by international experts in the morning and the analysis and discussion of case studies in the afternoon. Of course this workshop also continued to provide ample opportunity for networking. Click here for more information.

8-13 January 2017: ESTIV-BelTox workshop on in vitro toxicology

BelTox, together with the European Society of Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV), organized the “Applied In Vitro Toxicology” course from 8 to 13 January 2017 in Belvaux-Luxembourg. The course was hosted by the Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology (LIST) and was attended by 24 participants. Most course attendees had an industrial background and came from 11 different countries, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the USA. The program consisted of 17 lectures in the area of regulatory, investigative and screening in vitro toxicology. During the group exercise, the course attendees applied all theoretically acquired in vitro skills to real-life cases of toxicologically relevant chemicals. Furthermore, the participants were given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, in particular regarding tridimensional in vitro cell culture modelling and in vitro skin irritation testing, the latter being organized by the course sponsor CellSystems. Based on a survey filled out by the participants, the course was rated of high quality.

9 December 2016: Annual scientific meeting on “Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) in Toxicology and Ecotoxicology”

The 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting held on December 9 at the UCL campus, Louvain-la-Neuve. The theme of this meeting was “Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) in Toxicology and Ecotoxicology”. More than 80 participants attended the meeting and showed great interest thanks to the lectures by eminent speakers and the high quality presentations of the Young Scientist Competition. Many questions were asked leading to sometimes lively debates. In all, 20 posters were displayed and discussed during the breaks. The morning session, chaired by Arno Gutleb (LIST) started with an introduction to the principles of AOPs by Dries Knapen (UAntwerpen) followed by a lecture on the application of AOPs in ecotoxicology by Gerald Ankley (US EPA). After an overview of regulatory aspects of AOPs given by Birgit Mertens (WIV/ISP), the application of AOPs in cosmetics was discussed by Petra Kern (P&G). During the afternoon session, chaired by Francesca Tencalla (ToxMinds), there were two case studies: Sybille van den Brule (UCL) spoke on an AOP for the lung fibrogenic activity of carbon nanotubes, while Miek Desmidt (Janssen) discussed mechanistic insights around hepatic fibrosis. The usual Young Scientist Competition, led by Dries Knapen (UAntwerpen), featured 4 oral presentations (out of 11 posters competing). The winners were awarded for their best oral or best poster presentation, respectively, as follows:

Best platform presentations: Evelyn Stinckens (UAntwerpen) on the validation of the AOP network for thyroperoxidase and/or deiodinase inhibition leading to impaired swim bladder inflation; Sietske Berghuis (University Groningen) on the effects of prenatal exposure to PCBs and their hydroxylated metabolites on pubertal development in girls.

Best poster presentations: Kahina Mehennaoui (LIST) on the influence of size and surface coating on silver and gold nanoparticles uptake by Gammarus fossarum; Jelena Periz Stanacev (UA) on the ontogeny of steroid and thyroid hormone metabolism gene transcription during zebrafish embryo-larval development.

During the Annual Meeting, a General Assembly of BelTox was held. Miranda Cornet (UCB, President of BelTox) gave a formal overview of past (2016) and forthcoming (2017) activities. The BelTox budget showed a healthy surplus of income over expenditure.

13 October 2016: Advanced toxicology course on “Endocrine Disruption”

The course was held at WIV-ISP in Brussels. There were 30 participants which is the ideal number for full participation in a course with practical exercises. The morning session, chaired by Francesca Tencalla (ToxMinds), started with an short introduction to the endocrine system by Mark Martens (MMTA) followed by a lecture on human disorders and challenges of endocrine modulation by Jean-Pierre Bourguignon (ULg). Hilda Witters (VITO) and Marie-Noëlle Blaude (WIV-ISP) gave an overview of in vitro and in vivo test methods for the screening of endocrine disruptors (ED). Ecotoxicology testing of EDs was given by Francesca Tencalla (ToxMinds) while Peter Hoet (KULeuven) critically reviewed low dose effects and non-monotonous dose-effect relationships of EDs. In the afternoon session, chaired by Marie-Noëlle Blaude (WIV-ISP), an overview of the regulatory aspects of endocrine disruption in the EU was given by Ruth Moeller (LIST) followed by a practical exercise on the health and environmental effects of EDs using real but blinded experimental data from two well documented EDs. The practical exercise was led by Marie-Noëlle Blaude, Mark Martens and Francesca Tencalla. The feedback was positive to very positive for as well the structure as the content of the course. The course was considered to be very complete and touching upon all aspects of endocrine disruption (medical, experimental, regulatory). The practical exercises in the afternoon were very much appreciated and helped the attendants to apply and integrate the knowledge gathered during the morning session. From the feedback forms it could be derived that there is a great need for more training in reproductive toxicology (as a basis to better understand mechanisms of endocrine disruption and what they mean for human health). Therefore, the SC agreed at its last meeting of 2016 to organize in 2017 an advanced toxicology course on reproduction. Since it will be impossible to cover all aspects of reproduction toxicology in one day it was agreed to concentrate first on embryo-fetal developmetal toxicity in the course of 2017. Other aspects of reproduction toxicology such as fertility and juvenile development can be treated in later advances courses.

26 November 2015: Annual scientific meeting on “The safety of nanomaterials: opportunities & challenges”

The meeting was a joint initiative of BelTox and InVitroM (International Society for In Vitro Methods). It was held at the University of  Antwerp and was attended by more than 80 participants. Financial support was gratefully received from Nanowal (Wallonia Network for Nanotechnologies), VITO (Flemish Institute of Applied Research) and j.j.bos b.v. At the meeting, different safety subjects, from exposure to ecology, were highlighted by national and international speakers based in administration, industry and/or university. Although each of the invited speakers approached the safety issues from a different angle, all acknowledged the fact that no single nanomaterial metric has been identified to date that solely explains the observed biological effects.

The morning session was opened by Ronny Blust (University of Antwerp, Belgium) with a presentation on the fate and effects of nanomaterials in the environment. Karin Wiench (BASF, Germany) then presented a proposal of ECETOC on a new grouping method for nanomaterial risk assessment followed by Freya Joris (Ghent University, Belgium) who shared her experience on pitfalls of the hazard characterisation of gold nanoparticles in complex mixtures. These lectures set the scene for two applications: one on gut-on-a-chip models for risk assessment of nanomaterials by Hans Bouwmeester (RIKILT, Wageningen University, The Netherlands) and another on opportunities and safety of nanomaterials in medicine by Raymond Schiffelers (University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands). Finally, Evelien Frijns (Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Belgium) reviewed the current practices of assessing workplace exposure to inhaled nanoparticles.

As usual during every annual meeting, PhD students were given the opportunity to communicate their work, as oral presentation or poster display.  All contributions selected for oral presentation dealt with safety assessment of carbon nanotubes. The best oral presentations and posters received an award.

16 October 2015: Workshop on “Safety assessment of biopharmaceuticals”

On 16 October 2015, BelTox organised a 4th workshop on “Non-Clinical Safety Assessment of Biopharmaceuticals” with a focus on monoclonal bispecific antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates. The workshop was held at Ablynx in Ghent-Zwijnaarde. About 50 participants attended the meeting, coming from across Europe, i.e. Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, UK and France.  Sponsors were CitoxLab, Covance, RTC, Ablynx, TNO Triskelion, Charles River and WIL Research Europe, who gave valuable financial support.

In the morning, 4 excellent high level scientific presentations from industry and contract organisations brought everyone up to speed regarding the non-clinical assessment of these compounds. The first 2 speakers provided an insight into the latest developments in the non‐clinical assessment of bispecific antibodies and their transition into the clinic : Fynom antibodies for the treatment of inflammatory diseases (B. Schlereth, Covagen, Germany) and bispecific T cell-engaging antibodies (BiTEs) for anti‐cancer therapy (B. Rattel, Amgen/Micromet, Germany). The next 2 speakers walked the audience through bioanalytical considerations (J. Munday, Covance, UK) and non-clinical safety assessment of antibody‐drug conjugates (D. van den Dobbelsteen, Synthon, Netherlands).

In the afternoon, the audience split into small working groups to review different cases of realistic issues in the development of bispecific antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates. This triggered interesting discussions amongst participants concerning safety assessment strategies and ways to interact with regulatory authorities on bispecific antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates.

8 October 2015: Advanced toxicology course on “Skin Sensitisation”

The training course was attended by 21 participants and 7 lecturers.  The course took place on October 8, 2015, in the meeting rooms of the ISP/WIV in Brussels. The audience appeared already to be professionally involved to some degree in the assessment of skin sensitisation.

The morning session was devoted to a general introduction of underlying biological principles and medical background (Marc Pallardy, Université Paris-Sud, France), and two overviews of in vivo/in vitro testing with regulatory status (Jeroen Vanoirbeek, KU Leuven, Belgium and A Van Rompay, Belgium, respectively). There followed an explanation of in vitro approaches for testing and assessment of skin sensitisation (Erwin Roggen, 3Rs Management and Consulting ApS, Denmark) and a presentation on computational testing (Sabine Van Miert, Thomas More Kempen, Belgium). The morning session ended with a talk on interpretation of results and consequences for classification (Thomas Petry, Toxminds, Belgium).  In the afternoon, there was a very productive session with exercises on in vivo skin sensitisation. The participants expressed a need for more in-depth training with emphasis on the conduct and interpretation of in vitro testing of skin sensitisation.  This could constitute the second part of a next course on skin sensitisation.

Previously

  • 4 December 2014: Annual Scientific Meeting: “Food Safety: Toxicology from Farm to Fork (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 17 November 2014: Introduction to Toxicology and Ecotoxicology as the Scientific Basis for Management of Chemical Risk
  • 5 November 2014: Advances Course Skin and pulmonary sensitisation
  • 12 March 2014: 3rd workshop on non-clinical safety assessment of biopharmaceuticals with a focus on next generation therapies
  • 6 December 2013: Annual Scientific Meeting: New challenges in risk assessment : Non-testing approaches in toxicology and ecotoxicology (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 11 October 2013: Advances Course Genotoxicity & mutagenicity testing: a brief overview of the main tests, pitfalls and regulatory framework
  • 3 December 2012: Annual Scientific Meeting: Reproductive Toxicology: from in vitro to human (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 22 November 2012: 2nd Beltox Workshop on non-clinical safety assessment of biopharmaceuticals
  • 4 October 2012: Advances Course Mutagenicity (genotoxicity testing): a brief overview of the main tests, pitfalls and regulatory framework
  • 8 December 2011: Annual Scientific Meeting: Trends in metals toxicity and ecotoxicity (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 26 October 2011: 1st Annual Workshop on Non-Clinical Safety Assessment
    of Biopharmaceuticals
  • 13 October 2011: Advance Course Reproductive toxicity: Toxicity to embryo-fetal development
  • 11 May 2011: Introduction to Toxicology and Ecotoxicology as the Scientific Basis for Management of Chemical Risk
  • 25 November 2010: Annual Scientific Meeting: Recent Advances in the Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Environmental Contaminants (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 8 October, 2010: Advanced course: Toxicology as the Scientific Basis for Management of Chemical Risk – I. Interpretation and integration of repeated-dose toxicity data
  • 10 September 2010: Introduction to Toxicology and Ecotoxicology as the Scientific Basis for Management of Chemical Risk
  • 25 November 2009: Annual Scientific Meeting: Liver Toxicity: from in vitro to man (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 08 October 2009: Introduction to Toxicology and Ecotoxicology as the Scientific Basis for Management of Chemical Risk
  • 13 May 2009: Advanced course: Toxicology as the Scientific Basis for Management of Chemical Risk – I. Interpretation and integration of repeated-dose toxicity data
  • 28 November 2008: Annual Scientific Meeting:Combination (eco)toxicology mixtures and multiple exposures (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 28 November 2007: Annual Scientific Meeting: Nanotoxicology (abstracts and slides on members-only pages of this website)
  • 2006 Annual Scientific Meeting: New methods in genotoxicology, toxicology and ecotoxicology (abstracts on members-only pages of this website)