The OECD* has adopted two new alternatives to animal testing, developed by L’Oréal, to assess skin allergy and eye irritation.

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On 9 October the OECD* announced that it had accepted the U-SENS™ method (to predict sensitizing potential) and the HCE EIT** method (to detect the eye irritation potential of chemicals), both of which can be used in place of animal testing. This adoption by the OECD will enable all industries to use these two alternative methods developed by L’Oréal’s research laboratories.

Forty years of research into skin reconstruction and alternative methods are now bearing fruit

said Laurent ATTAL, Executive Vice-President Research and Innovation at L’Oréal.

This is a major breakthrough in the replacement of animal testing

In order to guarantee consumer safety, it is imperative that the cosmetics industry ensures that the ingredients present in the finished product have no undesirable effects, such as skin allergy or eye irritation. Since the EU banned animal testing in 2013, alternative in vitro methods have been developed to predict these potential side effects.

Skin allergy is a delayed immunological reaction that occurs following repeated contact with a sensitizing substance from the environment, a chemical or a cosmetic product. This reaction is the result of a complex mechanism that triggers a series of inflammatory reactions on the skin. The U-SENS™ method for detecting and predicting a skin allergy, developed in L’Oréal’s laboratories, is based on tests performed in vitro on human cells that express a specific marker of immunity. In 2016, the EURL-ECVAM*** had judged that the method was efficient and reproducible.

Eye irritation is characterized by an immediate reaction, which may or may not be reversible, that affects the cornea or the conjunctiva of the eye. This reaction may lead to redness or a burning sensation. To evaluate eye irritation, L’Oréal has developed a method based on a human cornea epithelium model reconstructed in vitro (organic tissue), that faithfully reproduces human histological and morphological properties. The cellular viability of this tissue in 3D is measured by a specific protocol. This HCE EIT** method, which is considered robust and relevant, was recognised and validated in 2016 by the EURL-ECVAM***.

These two scientific methods, developed by L’Oréal’s research teams, allow the development of an ever larger and more efficient range of alternative assessment methods that avoid the need for animal testing.

The inclusion of these two methods in the OECD* Test Guidelines in 2017 (TG442E and TG492) amounts to international recognition and regulatory acceptance for all industries that may use these tests.

*OECD: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

**HCE EIT: Human Corneal Epithelium Eye Irritation Test

***EURL-ECVAM: European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing