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P&G develops first approved non-animal alternative for skin allergy testing

By Andrew McDougall+

17-Jan-2014
Last updated on 17-Jan-2014 at 12:35 GMT

Procter & Gamble scientists announce a milestone having developed the first non-animal alternative method for skin allergy testing approved by European authority.

Dr Harald Schlatter, Principle Scientist Communications from P&G tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com that skin allergy is a critical safety question for all manufacturers, particularly P&G, given the broad portfolio of products coming into contact with the skin.

“The development of the Direct Peptide Reactivity Assay (DPRA) marks a milestone in overcoming the need for animal testing,” he says.

“While contact allergy is a complex process, it is something which is an important safety aspect for almost all ingredients.”

Schlatter explains that it also makes more business sense to use alternatives as they are faster, and often cheaper and more accurate than animal tests when it comes to establishing the safety of ingredients.

“An important note is that for complex safety questions involving different body systems like skin allergy, not a single assay but rather a battery of different alternative methods will be needed which, when smartly combined will meet all of our needs for skin allergy testing,” he continues noting that, the DPRA will likely become one of the key assays of any such a test battery.

Developed

The DPRA was approved by the European Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM), and received official endorsement last week from EURL ECVAM’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Dr G. Frank Gerberick, Research Fellow and Victor Mills Society Member of P&G, who came up with the idea for the DPRA more than 10 years ago, says he is grateful that this approval is now available.

“We know that the development of an alternative method, from the initial proof of an idea and testing up to official validation and acceptance through authorities, can be a challenging and lengthy process,” he explains.

Assay

By researching the binding of chemical allergens to skin proteins in skin sensitization the team said it was necessary to find a method to measure this event. This led to Gerberick’s idea to mimic this process in a chemical assay, the DPRA.

Potential chemical allergens are added to test tubes containing small fragments of proteins, called peptides.  The higher the reactivity of the chemical, the greater the level of reaction with peptides and the free peptides deplete.

The test also highlights if a chemical can be an allergen as well as information that can be used in combination with other assays to determine allergenic potency.

Support

After developing a basic test procedure for the DPRA, P&G reached out to key experts in the field, like Prof. Jean-Pierre Lepoittevin from the University of Strasbourg, and industry experts to further explore and establish the method.

P&G says its scientists are working already on a next generation peptide reactivity assay which will add another component allowing a more sophisticated assessment.

Schlatter says that P&G plans on rolling out the test globally in an effort to replace animal testing mandated by regulators. 

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