The Difficulties and Progress in Using Alternative Models in Consumer Product Testing

By Can Jin posted 03-12-2018 15:42


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The trend of shifting toxicology testing from animal testing to alternative methods has penetrated all subfields in toxicology and all geological regions. The 2018 Continuing Education course “Consumer Products Safety Assessment: Progress in the Use of Alternatives to Animal Models” focused on discussion of the progress, current status, and needs of alternative toxicology testing for consumer products with case studies in cosmetics (by Dr. Kristin Yamada, L’Oreal) and cleaning products (by Dr. Kathryn Page, The Clorox Company).

Big gaps are seen in consumer product safety testing. The cosmetics industry is spearheading alternative testing approaches to provide safe products, with the EU completely banning any products with animal testing anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, agencies overseeing the safety of many other consumer products suffer from a shortage of either in vivo or in vitro data for product labeling for consumer information, according to Dr. Joanna Matheson, US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A common ground lies in the need of more efficient and predictive methods for human safety assessment, especially for mixtures/formulations. Dr. Thomas Hartung, Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, discussed the limits of animal testing: low efficiency, low sesitivity. Alison Hilbere, Institute of In Vitro Sciences, Inc., introduced current alternative testing systems including computational, molecular, cellular, 3-D organ tissues and organs on chip and precision cute human tissue slices systems. Dr. Hartung mentioned that some alternative methods, such as skin irritation testing using in vitro cultured 3D skin tissues, achieved better prediction than animal testing. REACHAcross is another great tool that has aided to reduce animal testing by comparing ingredients concentrations and chemical properties before decision on testing.

With the high demand for predicting the safety of thousands of ingredients and mixtures of consumer products, agencies are working more closely together to validate testing methods, share data, and educate consumers. Alternative test methods are called for transparency and submission to help move the predictive toxicology field forward.

This blog was prepared by an SOT Reporter. SOT Reporters are SOT members who volunteer to write about sessions and events they attend during the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. If you are interested in participating in the SOT Reporter program in the future, please email SOT Communications Director Michelle Werts.