R&D collaboration aims to develop alternative to animal testing

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Immune system

A research and development collaboration between L’Oreal and Hurel Corporation to develop an in vitro allergy test as an alternative to animal testing has achieved its first milestone.

The ‘Allergy Test on a Chip’ device is intended to be used as a substitute for the local lymph node assay (LLNA) animal test. This test is used within the industry as a means of identifying potential allergic reactions and currently accepted as standard by regulatory agencies worldwide.

With a seven figure budget, the project, which was invested in by L’Oreal, is being carried out by Hurel in the US with contributions from L’Oreal’s scientific team.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with Hurel in the development of Allergy Test on a Chip, which is totally in line with our 25-year commitment in non-animal toxicology,” ​said Jacques Leclaire, director of Life Sciences at L’Oreal.

Primary success

According to a joint statement released by the two companies, the ‘Allergy test on a chip’ device will integrate a reconstructed human skin, a separate cell culture capable of stimulating a human immune system response (i.e. an allergic reaction), and a means of signaling between the two.

The most recent achievement of the project relates to the demonstration of the microfluidic signaling component of the device.

This was achieved by simulating the process of migration that occurs in response to an allergen contacting the skin, whereby certain cells migrate out of the skin and into a nearby lymph node, where they signal to the immune system to launch an allergic reaction, the companies said.

Finished prototype expected in 2011

Hurel Corporation CEO, Robert Freedman, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe that in addition to achieving this landmark, the current R&D activities of developing the other components of the device will lead to the creation of a complete working prototype

“We plan to have a first working prototype finished and available for testing in late 2011” ​he said, adding that this schedule “is responsive to the EU regulation requiring cosmetics companies, as well as all types of companies, to use of non-animal methods for tests of contact hypersensitivity (i.e., allergenicity) starting in 2013.”

Although the initial stages look positive, the companies noted that as with any R&D initiative, the commercial success of the venture cannot be guaranteed.

“However, what we have been able to achieve is a tremendous breakthrough and the milestones achieved are non-trivial,”​ emphasized Freedman, adding that while there are undoubtedly other animal test substitutes being developed, Hurel's Allergy Test on a Chip “is considered to be the most technologically advanced and promising.”

The companies say that if successful, the test has the potential to be used beyond the cosmetics industry, for example in the pharmaceutical sector, helping to reduce the use of animal tests in safety evaluations.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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