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Chemical safety heading towards animal-free assessments with €50m investment programme

By Andrew McDougall+

04-Dec-2015

Chemical safety heading towards animal-free assessments with €50m investment programme

Cosmetics Europe and the EU’s FP7 have each contributed half the funds towards a €50 million European public–private partnership (PPP) – the largest of its kind – as it looks towards a new era of assessing chemical safety without using animals. 

The SEURAT-1 project, which aims towards the replacement of In Vivo repeated dose systemic toxicity testing, had its final symposium today, showcasing the collective knowledge, and cross-disciplinary expertise of regulators and scientists from over 70 universities, research institutes and companies.

They aim has always been to define a common research strategy and make a decisive step to overcome fragmentation in the research community; meeting the specific needs of the cosmetics industry but also contributing to a global safety assessment solution for any chemical.

The area has always been a difficult one for the industry as even though the EU ban came into play on all cosmetic products sold in Europe over two years ago, ingredients used in cosmetics may still be tested on animals in the EU under REACH, the world’s largest chemical testing programme.

“SEURAT-1 marks a significant strategic milestone in the journey towards a future of animal-free testing; it leaves a solid foundation on which future initiatives can build,” says John Chave, Director General, Cosmetics Europe.

“With our strategic partners, the cosmetics and personal care industry is committed to strengthening our collaboration in this area of research and to continuing our twenty year commitment towards the development of efficient, sustainable and innovative animal-free testing tools.”

The five-year project has delivered a set of tools and technologies, as well as a framework to tie them together.

Replacing traditional animal experiments with predictive toxicology requires a deep and detailed understanding of how chemicals cause adverse effects in humans.

Future developments

The EU's next major alternatives project, called EUToxRisk, will build on SEURAT-1's findings.

“The SEURAT-1 project has provided important groundbreaking work to establish a validated toolbox for alternative methods,” says EUToxRisk coordinator Bob van de Water from Leiden University in The Netherlands.

“A large proportion will be incorporated within the new EU-ToxRisk project. In addition, the case study concept that was developed within SEURAT-1 will be a central component within EU-ToxRisk.”

The Horizon 2020-funded project will develop case studies to test a range of tools and methods that make use of non-animal approaches.

Cosmetics Europe says it will continue research efforts, both through its partnership with the EUToxRisk project and through its Long Range Science Strategy programme (2016-2020), which will also use SEURAT-1 knowledge and will play a crucial role in maintaining EU leadership in this area of research.

With this programme, the industry aims to develop further alternative test methods and approaches for safety assessment as well as to facilitate their regulatory acceptance.

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