Summary 2008

Our 2006 McKim Conference discussed the paradigm-shift which is occurring in numerous regulatory agencies, and outlined three major areas where science currently limits a more strategic paradigm in safety assessment. The 2006 conferees urged that future meetings be focused on specific gaps in predictive toxicology and chemistry. Important gaps included the models and dose metrics used for chronic non-cancer endpoints including reproductive and developmental impairment. Accordingly, the organizers of the 2007 McKim Conference invited speakers who discussed the use of chemical categories to group chemicals by hazard and to illustrate how models for reproductive impairment and neurotoxicity can be formulated. In brief, the participants discussed a novel approach of using systems biology to guide QSAR model development and use QSAR to design probes for biological systems models. Systems biology for the brain-pituitary-gonad axis was illustrated in detail.

The 2008 McKim Conference provided illustrations of why QSAR models for complex effects endpoints required a knowledge of toxicity pathways in order to simulate the adverse effects of chemicals in animal tests. The 2008 McKim Conference also provided the basic structure of a visualization system for toxicity pathways which describes the biological effects linkages across different levels of biological organization. The International QSAR Foundation has created Effectopedia as a web-based tool to assist in the acquisition of biological response mechanisms and the associated biological knowledge bases which must be associated with these mechanisms to describe the most likely toxicity pathway. The next McKim Conference will be a "traveling" conference to demonstrate the use of Effectopedia with QSAR models and solicit expert volunteers to participate in compiling a biological database that is useful in modeling adverse effects across species and levels of biological observation. For more information on Effectopedia, please watch this website for announcements of the McKim Conference venues.