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Promoting Science & Research

Exhaustive science and research underpins our industry. It is essential for maintaining our competitive position, enabling us to guarantee the safety and product innovations demanded by our consumers.

However, an important area of our research is focused on the replacement of animal testing with alternatives to animal testing (AAT) in the evaluation of the safety of cosmetics and personal care products.

For more than 20 years our industry’s best scientists have been dedicated to support the development, validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative test methods and approaches.

Over the years Cosmetics Europe has invested over 70 million Euros in the development of alternatives to animal testing. This joint research comes on top of the research that is conducted by individual companies which amounts to several hundreds of millions over time.
Cosmetics Europe is a key stakeholder in two new major initiatives: the Long Range Science Strategy (LRSS) Research Programme (2016-2020) and EU-ToxRisk, both aimed at developing new concepts for regulatory chemical safety assessment with a focus on systemic toxicity;

€25 million of the total €50 million cost of SEURAT-1, the largest ever private-public initiative in the field, was invested by the European cosmetics industry through Cosmetics Europe in partnership with the European Commission, and completed in 2015;

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Partnerships and collaboration

Research into alternatives to animal testing is founded on a multidisciplinary partnership between Cosmetics Europe’s member companies, and with other groups which have a deep interest in alternatives to animal testing, including the regulatory community, validating agencies, interested public and academia, as well as partners for commercial exploitation (small and medium sized enterprises and large industries).

EU level initiatives support trans-national and cross-sector cooperation, in particular through joint agenda setting, mobilisation of additional funding and increased leverage of industrial R&D investment, mainly with the Commission and other partners under Horizon 2020 programme. The aforementioned SEURAT-1, LRSS and EU-ToxRisk are examples of such programmes.

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Our Research and Science Programme

The LRSS drives our current specific research programme on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (AAT). This programme focuses on the five most relevant areas regarding the safety evaluation of cosmetic ingredients, which are: (i) eye irritation, (ii) genotoxicity / mutagenicity, (iii) skin sensitisation, (iv) skin bioavailability / metabolism and (v) systemic toxicity. There is one dedicated task force for each of those and each task force runs a specific programme. The LRSS frames the connections between the task forces’ programmes and steers the overall consistence of the edifice in view of developing robust safety assessments based on alternative methods.

For more details, click here to access the LRSS website.

1. Eye irritation
The eye irritation research programme concentrates on the development and optimization of alternative methods & models that evaluate the potential of a chemical to induce, or not, human eye injury. This programme has delivered a full set alternative methods and now works on how a smart combination of these into testing strategies would improve the scientific evaluation of the eye irritation endpoint.

2. Genotoxicity/mutagenicity
The genotoxicity / mutagenicity programme aims to develop new in vitro assays which are more relevant and highly predictive for the dermal route of exposure ie. are better than the tests that are currently available. The current work is thus focusing on the 3D skin models based on reconstructed human tissues. The ongoing studies aim to make in vitro prediction of the genotoxicity potential by the combined use of these 3D skin models in the micronucleus (MN) and Comet assays.

3. Skin sensitization
Our research aims to develop a full set of in vitro methods that can be used to determine the ability of a substance to cause skin allergy and at what level. For that we have been building our knowledge on how chemicals react with the skin and activate the body’s immune system to cause skin allergy. The skin sensitization programme focuses on biological parameters which represent potential key events in the induction of skin sensitisation in human. Also , the programme’s is evaluating how the tests can be used in combination to bestpredictskin sensitization potential.

4. Skin bioavailability and Metabolism
Our research on skin bioavailability and metabolism aims to improve the understanding on how substances behave when applied to the skin. As in all our research the methods used are alternative methods (in vitro, in silico...) addressing a multitude of toxicokinetics parameters (e.g. absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination ( ADME)) to support safety assessment of chemicals via the estimation of the internal dose in relation to external exposure

5. Systemic toxicity
The systemic toxicity programme concentrates on the chemicals mode of action and the cellular processes that may lead to adverse effects f , often called toxicodynamics, and aims to develop a toolbox constituted of the most relevant assays or combination of assays in the field. Like the skin bioavailability / metabolism programme, the systemic toxicity programme takes into account in vitro and in silico tools. The two programmes provide thus complementary information to each other in view of risk assessment approaches. The main research activity on systemic toxicity was SEURAT-1 programme from 2010-2015, now superseded by the current LRSS and  EU-ToxRisk (see below).

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Further developments

The LRSS research programme represents the current priority within research for Cosmetics Europe for 2016-2020. The programme will focus mainly on repeat dose toxicity, bioavailability (ADME) and systemic toxicity, its main goals being:

  1. Animal free prediction of risk of human toxicity (for cosmetic ingredients and products) which will maintain the possibility to innovate with new substances and allow the cosmetics industry to keep safely using the existing substances
  2. Broad Scientific and Regulatory acceptance

The other priority initiative, EU-ToxRisk (2016-2020), is an international consortium of 39 partner organizations including Cosmetics Europe and funded by the European Commission. It will work on the integration of new concepts for regulatory chemical safety assessment, with the aim of delivering reliable, animal-free hazard and risk assessment of chemicals.

The EU-ToxRisk programme is looking to become the European flagship for animal-free chemical safety assessment. It builds on testing strategies and knowledge developed in previous national and European projects, including the SEURAT-1 programme.

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Learn more
    Visit the Long Range Science Strategy website
  • Cosmetics Europe Research Newsletter, Issue 3
  • Non-animal approaches to safety assessment of cosmetic products
  • Cosmetics Europe Research Newsletter, Issue 2
  • Cosmetics Europe Research Newsletter, Issue 1
  • SEURAT -1 - Towards the Replacement of in vivo Repeated Dose Systematic Toxicity Testing
  • Learn about EPAA - The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing

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