Cell-based alternative to animal testing

August 8, 2011

European legislation restricts animal testing within the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries and companies are increasingly looking at alternative systems to ensure that their products are safe to use. Research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Genomics demonstrates that the response of laboratory grown human cells can now be used to classify chemicals as sensitizing, or non-sensitizing, and can even predict the strength of allergic response, so providing an alternative to animal testing.

Allergic contact dermatitis can result in itching and eczema and is often due to repeated exposure to chemicals at work or in everyday life such as machine oil, detergents, soaps, and cosmetics. Unless the source of the sensitizing chemical is found the resulting rashes can be an ongoing source of misery for the sufferer. The 2009, 7th Amendment to the Cosmetic Directive bans testing of cosmetic products and ingredients on animals meaning that there is currently no way of ensuring new products are hypoallergenic.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden used genome-wide profiling to measure the response of a human cell line to known chemicals. From this they defined a 'biomarker signature' of 200 genes, which could accurately discriminate between sensitizing and non-sensitizing chemicals. By comparing this signature with the known action of these chemicals they were also able to use this system to predict sensitizing potency.

Prof Borrebaeck said, "REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals) regulation requires that all new and existing chemicals within the European Union are tested for safety. The number of chemicals this includes is over 30,000 and is increasing all the time. Our lab-based alternative to animal testing, although in an early stage of production, is faster, out-performs present alternatives, and, because the cells are human in origin, is more relevant. It provides a way of ensuring the continued safety of consumers and users and, by identifying chemicals and products with low immunogenicity, reducing the suffering due to eczema."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.