Scientists are racing to develop viable alternatives to animal testing to assure the safety of cosmetic ingredients as next year's deadline approaches fast. Testing for allergens Sweden-based Biovator is developing an in vitro technology to replace animals in the identification of substances that cause allergies. Finding alternatives to test allergens is a high priority as there are currently no in vitro methods in this area recognized by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM). However, Biovator said its testing method should be commercially available in the first half of 2009 after it received a cash injection from the state investment agency, ALMI Foretagspartner. "ALMI's decision to become a partner is a vote of confidence for Biovator and others involved in the project," said Biovator CEO Stan Mikulowski. The test itself is called the Cytokine Profile Assay (CPA) and is being developed on the back of work carried out by Professor Birger Andersson in the early 1990s at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute. Testing advantages According to Biovator, the test will not only replace animal testing but will have a number of advantages over in vivo methods. Mikulowski said: "Our test will be more reliable than current methods because tests on animals can only be used to identify Type 4 allergens - skin conditions. "At present, there is no Type 1 allergen reactions -airborne allergens- an area where there is proven medical need." In addition Biovator, which is owned by life-science firm LinkMed, said in vitro testing is quicker and less expensive than animal testing.
Having attracted a new investment partner, Biovator has announced that its in vitro test for compounds that cause allergies should be ready in 2009 when the EU animal testing ban comes into force.