Predicting the skin allergy potential of ingredients without animal tests

Andreas Natsch, Head of In Vitro Molecular Screening at Givaudan Schweiz, details a new breakthrough at OECD level

Allergic reactions to ingredients are the probably most frequent side-effects of the use of cosmetic products.

Allergic reactions are due to a process called skin sensitisation, whereby the ingredient associates with a skin protein and is then recognised by the immune system as a ‘foreign’ entity. Specific immune cells develop in the process called the induction or sensitisation phase.

Upon repeated contact with the ingredient, these immune cells react and lead to the manifestation of allergic reactions, namely skin inflammation.

Allergic reactions are reported to a wide range of ingredients, both of natural and synthetic origin.

Since allergy is a threshold effect, low doses of allergens can be tolerated without adverse effects. Thus, it is of predominant importance for manufacturers of ingredients and formulators to know which chemicals are sensitisers and how strong the sensitisation potential is in order to formulate safe products.

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