L’Oreal Contributes To An Important Step Towards Ending The Practice Of Animal Testing Research & Innovation

L’Oréal Episkin model validated as full replacement method for skin irritancy

Clichy, 30th April 2007

ECVAM (European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods) has announced the validation of an ‘in vitro’ test as a full replacement method for assessing the skin-irritancy potential of chemicals. This test employs the L’Oréal Episkin model; a human epidermis reconstructed on collagen.

“More than twenty years of research on skin reconstruction have been recognized today” said Jean-François Grollier, Executive Vice-President Research and Development at L’Oréal. “It is a great step towards the elimination of animal use.”

Since the eighties, L’Oréal has been working to develop reconstructed human skin to better understand its biological behaviour, as well as being able, in the future, to assess the tolerance of ingredients and finished products without animal tests.

This work has so far contributed to L’Oréal’s ability to end animal tests on all finished products in 1989. “Today, Episkin is routinely used for tolerance evaluation of our products and our commitment to develop alternative methods continues”, added JF Grollier.

The validation of Episkin is a particularly important result as the skin-irritancy potential of chemicals is today carried out on animals. Importantly, the test will also enable the replacement of animal tests for skin-irritancy of 10,000 substances, as foreseen under the implementation of REACH.

According to ECVAM, Episkin ‘predicts the skin irritancy potential of chemicals with great accuracy and precision and will therefore fully replace tests’ on animals.

What is a validated method?

An alternative method to animal tests should ideally replace the use of animals. It is then called a “full replacement” method, which is the case of Episkin. To achieve this, a validation process, under the guidance of ECVAM, has been conducted since 1999, in collaboration with public and private institutions: BfR- ZEBET, Sanofi Aventis, Unilever, Syngenta and L’Oréal. Sixty chemical substances, selected for their irritancy or non-irritancy potential, have been tested independently by these partners and the results have been submitted to the Scientific Committee of ECVAM (ESAC) which has now endorsed the successful validation of the method.

Jean-François Grollier commented: “L’Oréal would like to thank ECVAM and its partners for contributing to this achievement which benefits all.”

What next?

The Episkin model is available for use by the entire scientific community, as well as the industrial world of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer products and cosmetics. The model is produced in an ISO 9001 certified unit entirely dedicated to tissue-engineering, and located in Lyon. The commercialisation is carried out by SkinEthic, a subsidiary of L’Oréal, known worldwide for the reconstruction of epidermis and mucous membranes.

L’Oréal continues to set up and contribute to further research projects as part of its long-term investment into the search for alternative methods.

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