The ATHENA consortium aims to mobilise the scientific progress made in recent years to close critical gaps left open in test methods for thyroid hormone axis disrupting-chemicals. We will develop new methods for incorporation into existing OECD test guidelines that can capture the consequences of maternal thyroid hormone deficiency on the developing brain, due to disruption of delivery of thyroid hormones to the foetus. To make this possible, we will establish new endpoints for identifying down-stream effects on the developing brain in foetal and post-natal life. We will provide new test methods for chemicals that interfere with the delivery of thyroid hormones to the foetus and the adult brain across physiological barriers such as the placenta, the blood brain barrier and the blood brain cerebrospinal fluid barrier. We will also develop QSARs for the screening of large compound libraries and methods for capturing disruption of the local supply of thyroid hormone by inhibition of deiodinases, dehalogenases and cell membrane transporters. Based on the construction of AOP networks for adverse neurodevelopmental effects, we will deliver a comprehensive testing strategy that can protect from chemicals that have the potential to harm brain development in foetal life and adulthood by disrupting the availability of thyroid hormones. Finally, ATHENA will conceive strategies for the international harmonisation of screening, testing and hazard identification for thyroid hormone axis disrupting chemicals. ATHENA comprises world-leading endocrinologists, experts in endocrine disruption and experts in modelling brain function ex vivo who collectively will deliver a step change in thyroid disruptor testing.
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Funding SchemeRIA - Research and Innovation action