Swedish researchers use cells for testing chemicals
Lund - Researchers from Lund University may have found a viable alternative to animal testing. In an article in the open access journal BMC Genomics (August 2011) they demonstrated that the response of laboratory grown human cells can be used to classify chemicals as sensitizing, or non-sensitizing, and can even predict the strength of allergic response. A cell based testing method would be of great interest to cosmetical and pharmaceutical companies as European "REACH" legislation requires that all new and existing chemicals within the European Union are tested for safety.
The Swedish scientists used genome-wide profiling to measure the response of a human myeloid leukemia cell line to known chemicals. From this they defined a 'biomarker signature' of 200 genes, which could accurately discriminate between sensitizing and non-sensitizing chemicals. By comparing this signature with the known action of these chemicals they were also able to use this system to predict sensitizing potency.