iPiE Project conference overview

News | Posted on Thursday 25 July 2019

On the 24th and 25th of June, YESI sponsored an international conference at the University of York to mark the end of the 4 year £10m iPiE Project. We reflect on the events of the day.

Photographer: Alistair Boxall

Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) can be released to the natural environment during the manufacturing process, following use by consumers or when they are disposed of in an incorrect manner. As many of these substances are biologically active compounds, concerns have been raised about their potential effects on human and environmental health.

The iPiE project, funded by IMI, a public-private partnership between the European Commission and EFPIA, was set up to develop frameworks that utilize information from toxicological studies, pharmacological mode of action and computational tools to support intelligence-based environmental testing of pharmaceuticals in drug development and to prioritise legacy pharmaceuticals for targeted environmental risk assessment and/or environmental (bio) monitoring.

Chaired by YESI’s Alistair Boxall, Project Academic Coordinator (University of York), and Reinhard Laenge, Project Coordinator (Bayer AG), the conference, like the iPiE Project itself, brought together an international consortium of around 100 academics, industry representatives, and regulators to focus on novel strategies to assess and guide the future study of pharmaceuticals in the environment. The scientific program included both iPiE project members as well as others working on prioritisation and intelligent assessment of pharmaceuticals.

This YESI sponsored conference featured keynote speakers including academic researchers Bryan Brooks (Baylor University) and Kathrin Fenner (EAWAG), Issa Nafo (EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT and LIPPEVERBAND) and Caroline Moermond (RIVM). Also featured was Bengt Mattson (Phizer) who delivered the Frank Mastrocco Memorial Lecture focused on Ecopharmacostewardship.

The two major themes that emerged from the event included the use of monitoring and experimental data for the development of models to predict concentrations of pharmaceuticals in rivers, exposure and uptake in invertebrates, and sorption mechanisms to soils and sediments. This included the ePiE model developed through the iPiE project. The second theme was the commitment to developing and utilising in vitro and in silico methods to replace and reduce the number of fish used in routine toxicological testing. Fish S9 and hepatocyte assays (Lisa Constantine; Phizer) as well as an in vitro fish gill cell culture system (Nicolas Bury; University of Suffolk) were discussed.

Overall the conference not only highlighted the results of the very productive iPiE Project but also provided a clear vision and directive for the future of environmental assessment of the risks of pharmaceuticals.

Author: Dr Brett Sallach, Researcher