In the Spotlight
Second International Lhasa Limited Symposium – New Horizons in Toxicity Prediction
The symposium host, Lhasa Limited, is a not-for-profit organization and educational charity located in Leeds, UK. They provide “knowledge based software and associated databases for use in metabolism, toxicology, and related sciences.” Potential benefits of using their integrated in silico systems include minimizing downstream testing, reducing costs, and shortening development time.
Below is a brief summary of the symposium’s presentations, as excerpted from the Lhasa Limited Press Release, which playfully makes references to the venue being a military museum:
First up was Dr. Thomas Hartung, who talked about revolution – not the kind involving arms but of a “real revolution in regulatory toxicity”. He spoke passionately about the contrasting approaches in Europe versus the USA towards the development of new toxicological tools. In the former, he characterised the approach as ‘bottom up’ with a strong focus on the 3R’s principles (to replace animal testing), while in the US, he spoke of the ‘top down’ approach characterised by the “Tox-21c” vision, where programmed research is carried out and commissioned. For Dr. Hartung, the two approaches are two sides of the same coin, and more importantly, he believes, if brought together can result in a Human Toxicology Project and a revolution in the regulation of toxicology.
… the Symposium’s audience were subject to a barrage of first hand accounts describing the intense collaboration that characterises the direction in which the toxicity community is moving. Dr. Antony Williams spoke about ChemSpider (www.chemspider.com), a collaborative effort within the chemistry community to create, clean and grow an online platform of chemical data. Professor Jim Bridges focused on hazard assessment and again saw a requirement for close collaboration across user sectors and legislative regimes in order to bring further success in this field.
…Dr. Sabacho Dimitrov talked of animal welfare saying it is important to limit the number of tests where this is scientifically justifiable. One approach he described considers similar chemicals in categories, rather than individually. While Dr. James Trosko demanded toxicity studies of stem cells, given the role of stem cells in many chronic diseases such as cancer and birth defects. Dr. Melvin Andersen focused on the ancillary computational tools necessary to move in vitro assays to centre stage in human health safety assessments.
The Third Lhasa Limited Symposium will take place in 2012. David Watson, CEO of Lhasa Limited, commented that “The positive feedback we’ve received shows us that there is certainly demand for a 2012 event which we will be happy to deliver as part of our commitment to following developments in toxicity prediction.”
AltTox readers may be familiar with the software offered by Lhasa Limited:
- Derek for Windows – an expert knowledge base system that predicts whether a chemical is toxic in humans, other mammals, and bacteria
- Derek Nexus – this next generation will replace Derek for Windows over the next 2 years; Derek Nexus includes improved functionality, the ability to share data and knowledge with other Lhasa products via a single interface, and the capability to integrate with third party systems
- Meteor – a computer program that uses expert knowledge rules in metabolism to predict the metabolic fate of chemicals; covers phase I and phase II biotransformations; displays results as a metabolic tree
- Zeneth – an expert decision support system which predicts the forced degradation pathways of organic compounds; can inform early stages of drug development and assist regulatory compliance
- Vitic Nexus – the next generation chemical toxicity database and information management system, which can recognize and search for similarities in chemical structures in public and proprietary sources
Software users become members of Lhasa Limited, and can benefit from customer support and other activities such as participation in international meetings that cover software use and provide the opportunity for user feedback on product development.