HESI Insights - May 2019

HESI 30th Anniversary – Program Highlight

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In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week on 12−18 May 2019, this month’s 30th Anniversary Program Highlight spotlights the achievements of the Protein Allergens, Toxins, and Bioinformatics (PATB) Committee and the COMPARE database. COMPARE  is a collaborative program under the umbrella of the PATB Committee and is a transparent resource for the identification of protein sequences that are recognized allergens, developed to meet the needs of allergenicity safety assessments in foods. Dr. Ronald van Ree (Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam) shares his experience with the PATB Committee and COMPARE database: “The PATB studies were related to evaluating the relevance of digestibility as a determinant of allergenicity and to assessing whether bioinformatic sequence comparisons should be based on identity or similarity. The outcome of these studies has provided new leads for studies on the process of sensitization and symptom elicitation in food allergy, and for studies on IgE cross-reactivity. The HESI staff are very dedicated and knowledgeable. They have kept all involved stakeholders well-informed and they have guided the project in an excellent way. The COMPARE project has provided a more structured approach to evaluate whether proteins are to be designated as allergens.”

The PATB Committee will host a webinar on 22 May 2019 to discuss emerging opportunities and innovations in the biotechnology and food safety assessment arenas. Click here to learn more.

Coming Soon! The FASTA Search Tool – A New Feature of COMPARE 2019

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A new bioinformatic tool will accompany the fresh “new look” of COMPARE 2019. The COMPARE database, a transparent public resource for the identification of protein allergen sequences, will now provide the added capability of searching the COMPARE catalog of more than 2000 unique amino acid sequences for sequence similarity with an amino acid sequence of interest (“query” sequence) using the FASTA tool. FASTA is a sequence alignment software package that produces alignments with accurate statistical estimates. The built-in tool within the COMPARE website was developed based on the nearly 20 years of experience of COMPARE steering team members, applying sequence alignments and comparisons requirements set forth by global guidelines from the Codex Alimentarius Commission and implemented thanks to a collaboration between HESI and JIFSAN.

Overall, the built-in tool will equip COMPARE with the functionality required for food safety allergenicity assessments. Users will be able to perform three different types of sequence searches using either default parameters or adjusted parameters: 1) “full length comparisons,” 2) “80-mer sliding window comparisons” (80 amino acids long), and 3) “8-mer comparisons” (8 amino acids long) to determine the percent identity between an allergen and a sequence of interest. The FASTA tool is scheduled to be launched at the end of May/early June. Check out the FASTA tool and other COMPARE database updates at www.comparedatabase.org! For more information, please visit the website or e-mail compare@hesiglobal.org.

Congratulations to HESI Members
and Alumni!

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HESI congratulates Dr. Martin van den Berg, Board of Trustees Vice Chair, for being named one of the new Co-Editors-in-Chief of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology! By becoming one of the new Co-Editors-in-Chief of the publication, Dr. van den Berg hopes to ensure a more balanced representation on the editorial board, both geographically and in sectors.

Additionally, Dr. Alex Keller, one of HESI’s first class of scientific program associates, successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in pharmacology. Dr. Keller shared, “HESI played such a key role in my preparedness for and choice of PhD study. I’m grateful and proud to be a HESI alumnus!” Congratulations, Dr. Keller!

Finally, in April 2019, Dr. Jay Goodman received the PhRMA Foundation Award of Excellence in Pharmacology/Toxicology. Dr. Goodman has focused his toxicology research on understanding how chemicals adversely affect human health, particularly in cancer. He is currently a member and former HESI Board of Trustees Chair. Congratulations, Dr. Goodman!

HESI PATB Public Webinar

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The PATB Committee will host a public webinar to discuss the portfolio of research the PATB has built over the years to address challenges in the food and feed biotechnology space. We welcome you to attend and invite your colleagues to this webinar, which will be held on 22 May 2019 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT. Full details and registration information are available here and through HESI’s social media channels. Watch this space and please share! For more information, please contact lpeel@hesiglobal.org.

2019 HESI Annual Meeting

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Register now to celebrate 30 years of HESI science! The 2019 HESI Annual Meeting will be held 11–12 June 2019 in Alexandria, Virginia. This year’s program will bridge HESI’s past achievements and future plans to generate science for improved decision-making, enhanced human health and safety, and protected environments. The agenda features exciting speakers on topics including innovations in multidisciplinary science, the future of cancer risk assessment, and more, as well as great opportunities to network with leading scientists from around the globe. Click here to register.

CIRM, GAiT, HESI CT-TRACS, ISCBI, and ISCT Joining Efforts to Co-Organize a Follow-Up Meeting on Pluripotent Stem Cell-Based Therapies

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After the success of the 2018 CIRM/IABS “4th Cell Therapy Conference: Manufacturing and Testing of Pluripotent Stem Cells” and the associated HESI CT-TRACS tumorigenicity workshop, five organizations have come together to continue the discussion and address bottlenecks associated with the manufacture and testing of pluripotent stem cell-based therapies.

The Pluripotent Stem Cells Manufacturing Meeting 2019 (PSCM2019) will be held on 30 June 2019 in Los Angeles, California, following the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) 2019 Annual Meeting. Click here to register. For more information, please contact Lucilia Mouriès (lmouries@hesiglobal.org).

From the Leadership

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This week I had the privilege of listening to a senior scientist from Health Canada, Dr. Ivy Moffat, describe the implementation of the HESI RISK21 approach to prioritize chemicals for safety evaluation in Canadian drinking water. Dr. Moffat will also be presenting this work again at the upcoming Toxicology Forum Meeting in Brussels, Belgium. The team of Health Canada scientists involved in this effort reported that it enhanced efficiency, provided added transparency across different scientific and management groups (national, regional, local), and allowed for exposure-driven and risk-based discussions. With the aid of the RISK21 approach, they were able to more efficiently fulfill their health protection roles. As a nonprofit institution, our remit is to provide science that contributes to the public health. Congratulations to the HESI RISK21 team for creating a tool that helps us achieve this critical mission goal so effectively!

Syril D. Pettit, DrPH
HESI Executive Director

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