In an issue published in BMC Genomics, researchers from Lund University, Sweden reported that animal testing could be practicable and conveniently substituted with laboratory-grown human cells. Scientists have been on the lookout for consistent and efficient substitutes, since animal testing by pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies is strictly prohibited by European legislation and laws of many other countries.
According to the authors, tests to predict the strength of an allergic response or tests to classify chemicals as non-sensitizing or sensitizing can be performed on laboratory-grown human cells.
Typically, eczema and/or itching are seen in patients with allergic contact dermatitis, which is most often caused by repeated exposure to chemicals, like detergents, cosmetics, soaps, or machine oil, in either the workplace or elsewhere.
Unless and until the source of the sensitizing chemical is identified, the victim relentlessly suffers from symptoms.
According to The 2009: 7th Amendment to the Cosmetic Directive, animal testing with cosmetic products and their ingredients is not permitted in Europe making it virtually impracticable to ensure that a new product is hypoallergenic.
In this study, the response of a human myeloid leukemia cell line linked with exposure to some chemicals was gauged by Professor Carl AK Borrebaeck and team using genome-wide profiling. Non-sensitizing and sensitizing chemicals could be accurately differentiated eventually by defining a “biomarker signature” of 200 genes. The researchers accurately predicted the sensitizing potency of these chemicals by comparing this signature with what is already known about these chemicals.
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.”