Regulatory use of (Q)SARs in toxicological hazard assessment strategies
In 2001, the European Commission published a policy statement ("White Paper") on future chemicals regulation and risk reduction that proposed the use of non-animal test systems and tailor-made testing approaches, including (Q)SARs, to reduce financial costs and the number of test animals employed. The authors have compiled a database containing data submitted within the EU chemicals notification procedure. From these data, (Q)SARs for the prediction of local irritation/corrosion and/or sensitisation potential were developed and published. These (Q)SARs, together with an expert system supporting their use, will be submitted for official validation and application within regulatory hazard assessment strategies. The main features are: two sets of structural alerts for the prediction of skin sensitisation hazard classification as defined by the European risk phrase R43, comprising 15 rules for chemical substructures deemed to be sensitising by direct action with cells or proteins, and three rules for substructures acting indirectly, i.e., requiring biochemical transformation; a decision support system (DSS) for the prediction of skin and/or eye lesion potential built from information extracted from our database. This DSS combines SARs defining reactive chemical substructures relevant for local lesions to be classified, and QSARs for the prediction of the absence of such a potential. The role of the BfR database, and (Q)SARs derived from it, in the use of current and future (EU) testing strategies for irritation and sensitisation is discussed.