Non-animal Replacements for Acute Toxicity Testing

Carol Barker-Treasure, Kevin Coll, Nathalie Belot, Chris Longmore, Karl Bygrave, Suzanne Avey and Richard Clothier

Current approaches to predicting adverse effects in humans from acute toxic exposure to cosmetic ingredients still heavily necessitate the use of animals under EU legislation, particularly in the context of the REACH system, when cosmetic ingredients are also destined for use in other industries. These include the LD50 test, the Up-and-Down Procedure and the Fixed Dose Procedure, which are regarded as having notable scientific deficiencies and low transferability to humans. By expanding on previous in vitro tests, such as the animal cell-based 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake (NRU) assay, this project aims to develop a truly animal-free predictive test for the acute toxicity of cosmetic ingredients in humans, by using human-derived cells and a prediction model that does not rely on animal data. The project, funded by Innovate UK, will incorporate the NRU assay with human dermal fibroblasts in animal product-free culture, to generate an in vitro protocol that can be validated as an accepted replacement for the currently available in vivo tests. To date, the project has successfully completed an assessment of the robustness and reproducibility of the method, by using sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) as a positive control, and displaying analogous results to those of the original studies with mouse 3T3 cells. Currently, the testing of five known ingredients from key groups (a surfactant, a preservative, a fragrance, a colour and an emulsifier) is under way. The testing consists of initial range-finding runs followed by three valid runs of a main experiment with the appropriate concentration ranges, to generate IC50 values. Expanded blind trials of 20 ingredients will follow. Early results indicate that this human cell-based test holds the potential to replace aspects of in vivo animal acute toxicity testing, particularly with reference to cosmetic ingredients.
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