Cell culture provides alternative to animal testing of products
8 August 2011
Laboratory-grown cells can be used as an alternative to animal
testing to indicate sensitivity to chemicals and allergic responses for
the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.
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 myeloid leukemia 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.”
Henrik Johansson, Malin Lindstedt, Ann-Sofie Albrekt and Carl AK
Borrebaeck. A genomic biomarker signature can predict skin
sensitizers using a cell-based in vitro alternative to animal tests.
BMC Genomics, (in press).
About BMC Genomics
BMC Genomics is an Open Access, peer-reviewed journal. All
articles are available free of charge.