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Headlines > Regulation & Safety

L’Oreal ups the animal testing alternative ante with EPA investment

By Andrew McDougall , 13-Mar-2012
Last updated on 13-Mar-2012 at 16:35 GMT

The US Environmental Protection Agency received $1.2 million in private sector research funding from global cosmetic company L’Oreal in a bid to determine if EPA’s chemical toxicity forecaster (ToxCast) can be used in systemic toxicity tests and replace current methods that involve animals. 

EPA is using ToxCast to screen chemicals to understand their potential impact on processes in the human body that lead to adverse health effects, and this alliance could serve as a milestone towards animal-free safety testing.

Cosmetic ingredients will be evaluated using ToxCast; made up of over 700 ultra-fast non-animal tests.

“For more than 30 years, we have invested in Predictive Evaluation for Safety, in other words, animal-free toxicology,” said Laurent Attal, executive vice-president L’Oreal Research & Innovation.

“Our new L’Oréal Predictive Evaluation Center‘s activity is based on new-generation tests, using reconstructed human tissues, automated platforms, molecular modeling… In this perspective, the ToxCast program from EPA could enrich our testing platforms and help us to predict the safety of substances for our products earlier.”

EU must act now

The EU’s ban on selling newly animal-tested cosmetics is due to take effect in a year’s time and Humane Society International/Europe (HSI) has warned that the EU must act quickly to increase its own research funding and infrastructure in this area to keep pace with the US and other nations or risk losing out on an exciting technology revolution.

“This research partnership also comes at a time when the EU is deciding how to spend its €80 billion Horizon 2020 research funding budget, so policy makers should reflect on the fact that L’Oréal had to look to the United States for technology leadership,” said Troy Seidle, director of research & toxicology, HSI.

“Europe must dramatically increase its investment in human-relevant, non-animal testing tools or risk being left behind in the revolution taking place in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and chemical safety testing,” he added.

Proven in industry, now for cosmetics

Using pesticides and industrial chemicals, ToxCast has already demonstrated that it can predict a chemical’s potential for liver toxicity, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity and cancer. L’Oréal’s data will now expand the ToxCast portfolio to also include cosmetic chemicals.

“Because of the high costs and length of time it takes for animal testing, not all the chemicals in use have been thoroughly evaluated for potential toxicity. ToxCast is able to rapidly screen thousands of chemicals in hundreds of tests and provide results that are relevant to various types of toxicity,” said Dr David Dix, acting director, EPA National Center for Computational Toxicology.

If the high-throughput non-animal results compare favourably with the substances’ known safety profile, ToxCast could establish itself as an invaluable tool for intelligent, human-relevant safety evaluation.

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