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CEM SAV to be part of the international ONTOX project financed from the H2020 program

4. 2. 2021 | 388 visits

The Centre of Experimental Medicine will be part of the prestigious ONTOX project, which stands for “Ontology-driven and artificial intelligence-based on repeated dose toxicity testing for next-generation chemical risk assessment - NGRA”. 

The ONTOX project is supported by a Horizon 2020 grant (RIA scheme, H2020-SC1-BHC) in the amount of more than EUR 17 million, and will create innovative procedures for the safety assessment of chemicals without the use of laboratory animals.  The ONTOX consortium consists of 18 European and American partners and more than 60 scientists.

 “We are pleased with the success achieved by our scientists,” said RNDr. Oľga Pecháňová, DrSc, Director of CEM. “This is the second project of the H2020 scheme, solved at our centre since its establishment in 2018.  LOGIC-LAB project (MSCA-ITN Marie-Curie), coordinated by Dr. Mojmír Mach and now ONTOX under the supervision of Dr. Helena Kanďárová, confirms the innovative potential of our centre. It proves that we have top scientists and an excellent infrastructure, which contributes to world-class research at the European level.”

The ONTOX project starts on May 1, 2021, under the supervision of the main coordinator Prof.  Mathieu Vinken from Vrije Universiteit Brussel-Belgium and will run for 5 years. The Centre of Experimental Medicine is involved in working groups for risk assessment, coordination, dissemination and exploitation of project results and is the leader of the working group for communication. Dr. Helena Kanďárová participates in project management as a deputy main coordinator for the areas of dissemination and exploitation of results, communication and data management.

THE ONTOX PROJECT

The vision of the ONTOX project is to provide functional solutions and sustainable scientific progress in the field of chemical risk assessment without the use of laboratory animals in accordance with the principles of 21st-century toxicity testing and the so-called NGRA principle. The ONTOX consortium will provide a general strategy for the creation of new methodologies, the so-called NAMs (meaning New Approach Methodologies) to predict the effects of repeated dose systemic toxicity, which in combination with an adapted exposure for assessment will allow a risk assessment relevant for people.

This assessment strategy will be applicable to the investigation of any type of chemical and systemic-toxic effect after repeated dosing.  In order to demonstrate the suitability of the concept, the project will focus on six areas that address liver disease (steatosis and cholestasis), kidney disease (tubular necrosis and crystallopathy) and effects on the developing brain (neural tube closure and cognitive function) caused by various chemicals from pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and biocidal sectors.

Each of the strategies for the selected areas will consist of a computer system based on the use of artificial intelligence, and the biological/mechanistic, toxicological, epidemiological, physico-chemical and kinetic data will be available through the inputs. These data will be gradually integrated into physiological maps, quantitative networks of adverse effects and ontological frameworks.  Deficiencies in the data identified by artificial intelligence will be complemented by targeted in vitro testing and in silico modelling.

These six areas will be explored and assessed in cooperation with industry and regulatory authorities concerned in order to maximise the end-user acceptance of results and build confidence in regulators. This is expected to speed up the implementation of results into practice in substance risk assessment and, at the same time, it will facilitate their commercialisation. The ONTOX project will have a profound and long-term impact at many levels, in particular for consolidation of Europe´s leadership in the development, use, regulation and application of alternative methods for chemical risk assessment.

Text: Marta Prnová, The Centre of Experimental Medicine SAS