Saturday, 18 August 2007

Human skin to replace animal tests

Finally it seems we are using technology and our scientific prowess to try to address the issue of animal testing for cosmetics.

It seems like the first complete replacement for animal testing is here in the form of Episkin - a reconstructed human skin which has been approved for testing if cosmetics are likely to irritate the skin.

Although cosmetics and skincare giant L'Oréal has been developing reconstructed skin since the 1980s, the search for animal alternatives became urgent in recent months with the introduction of two pieces of legislation. In December 2006, the European Union introduced REACH, which calls for more than 10,000 chemicals used in cosmetics to be tested for skin irritancy by 2019. At the same time, the EU's cosmetics

Skin cells called keratinocytes left-over from breast surgery are used to grow grows the skin layers on collagen . The safety of cosmetics can be testes by simply smothering the skin in the product. They can then check the proportion of cells that have been killed off by adding a yellow chemical called MTT which turns blue in the presence of living tissue. "To be validated we had to show that we could reproduce results as effectively as animal tests," says Patricia Pineau, scientific director at L'Oréal. Independent tests showed that in some cases Episkin was able to predict more accurately how a person would react to products than animal tests, she says.

Episkin improves on animal testing in other ways too. For example, it can be adapted to resemble older skin by exposing it to high concentrations of UV light. Adding melanocytes also results in skin that can tan, and by using donor cells from women of different ethnicities, the team has created a spectrum of skin colours which they are using to measure the efficiency of sunblock for different skin tones.

"This is a great advance - not just for animals but for people, who will finally have a safety test that is relevant to them," says Kathy Archibald of the anti-vivisection group Europeans for Medical Progress, London. She says animal skin often differs dramatically from human skin in terms of sensitivity.

Source - New Scientist (28 July 07) article by Zeeya Merali

Episkin website Invitroskin

1 comment:

eirenety said...

this is wonderful news for both animals and humans . . .
hopefully now companies will not require so many tests on animals.