A new article by Kristie Sullivan (PCRM), Joe Manuppello (PETA), and Catherine Willett (HTPC) honors the pioneering work of Gilman Veith, a longtime EPA scientist, pioneer in the field of Structure-Activity Relationships (SAR), and founder of the International QSAR* Foundation for Reducing Animal Testing [*(Quantitative)SAR].
A structure-activity relationship (SAR) describes the link between a chemical’s physical properties and its biological activity. A (quantitative) structure-activity relationship [(Q)SAR or QSAR] quantifies this relationship in statistical terms, allowing it to be used in models predicting toxicity and adverse outcomes. (To learn more about QSARs, read this introduction on AltTox.org.) Dr. Veith and his colleagues recognized that QSARs could be used to group chemicals based on their similarities in physical structure. If the activity and hazards of one chemical (or group of chemicals) are known, it should be possible to predict the activity of unknown, but similarly constructed chemicals by “reading across” from the known group. (To learn more about read-across, see this introduction on AltTox.org.) Regulators can then use this information to prioritize the screening and testing of thousands of unknown chemicals, based on each chemical’s likely hazard and exposure risk.
Dr. Veith was instrumental in integrating QSAR into the US EPA’s predictive toxicology programs, and in developing the OECD’s QSAR Toolbox. The authors write, “In large part the genesis, development, and uptake of these revolutionary approaches has resulted from the influence of Dr. Gil Veith. His scientific vision and tireless promotion of predictive tools have created a new climate that offers a more efficient protection of human health and the environment, at the same time greatly reducing reliance on laboratory animals for testing.”
Read more: Sullivan KM, Manuppello JR, and Willett CE. (2014). Building on a solid foundation: SAR and QSAR as a fundamental strategy to reduce animal testing. SAR QSAR Environ Res. 2014 Apr 28: 1-9. [Epub ahead of print]