Progress is being made in efforts to reduce the use of animals in testing new cosmetic and other product ingredients that might trigger skin allergies. Concerns about the ethics, as well as costs, of animal-based tests for skin sensitizers, plus regulations in the European Union, are fostering a search for alternative approaches to testing. Testing product ingredients prior to marketing is important, because allergic contact dermatitis is the most prevalent form of immunotoxicity in humans.

In a study published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, scientists are describing a highly accurate, non-animal test for these skin sensitizers.

It is a cell-based alternative test that uses genes and signaling pathways in mouse skin cells grown in the lab. Exposure to skin sensitizers typically triggers characteristic responses, activating genes and making cells release substances that communicate with adjacent cells.

Evaluation of the test on 18 compounds showed that it had a sensitivity of 92 percent in correctly identifying actual sensitizers. It had a specificity of 100 percent and did not produce any false positive results — indicating that a substance caused sensitization when it actually did not. According to Bruno Miguel Neves, one of the authors, the approach could be extremely valuable in revealing the interaction of skin cells with sensitizing ingredients.

If you’re on the search for safe, effective skin care products that doesn’t involve the use of animal testing, check out the skin care products we have available or contact Zimmet Vein & Dermatology at (512) 485-7700 for more information.