(Q)SAR assessments of potentially mutagenic impurities: A regulatory perspective on the utility of expert knowledge and data submission
(Quantitative) structure activity relationship [(Q)SAR] modeling is the primary tool used to evaluate the mutagenic potential associated with drug impurities. General recommendations regarding the use of (Q)SAR in regulatory decision making have recently been provided in the ICH M7 guideline. Although (Q)SAR alone is capable of achieving reasonable sensitivity and specificity, reliance on a simple positive or negative prediction can be problematic. The key to improving (Q)SAR performance is to integrate supporting information, also referred to as expert knowledge, into the final conclusion. In the regulatory context, expert knowledge is intended to (1) maximize confidence in a (Q)SAR prediction, (2) provide rationale to supersede a positive or negative (Q)SAR prediction, or (3) provide a basis for assessing mutagenicity in absence of a (Q)SAR prediction. Expert knowledge is subjective and is associated with great variability in regards to content and quality. However, it is still a critical component of impurity evaluations and its utility is acknowledged in the ICH M7 guideline.
The current paper discusses the use of expert knowledge to support regulatory decision making, describes case studies, and provides recommendations for reporting data from (Q)SAR evaluations.