At XCellR8, we use human-derived products such as serum, albumin and tissue extracts as part of our strategy to provide completely animal-product-free tests for the cosmetics industry. 

As well as meeting the increasing demand for vegan testing, the approach also ensures the closest possible simulation of human cell physiology in vitro. However, for this approach to remain sustainable, sourcing the products ethically and with full traceability is critical. So how does the industry address that?

Our Founder and CEO Carol Treasure has been contributing to the development of guidance from the OECD on the use of human reagents in regulatory in vitro Test Guidelines (TGs). In this thought starter paper published in the Altex journal, the potential ethical issues are identified:

  • Ensuring there is no exploitation of donors
  • How to obtain and record informed consent from donors
  • Screening products for viruses
  • Consolidating safe and legal collection of products
  • Assuring origin and traceability, whilst working within data protection laws

The authors also investigate the current sources of human serum around the world and how different countries’ governments or medical bodies currently approach the ethics of collecting human products.


We are often asked where ours comes from and whether there’s a risk of it running out. Most human reagents are by-products or waste from cosmetic surgery or blood banks, obtained with full consent. Because such small amounts are used in the testing process, we can’t imagine a time when they would run out, even as demand increases. As we speed towards the elimination of animal-derived components in cosmetic testing, it’s right to focus on the long-term sustainability of sources of human reagents and this conversation gives plenty of hope for the future.

Read the full article below and as ever, we’d love your views on this topic.

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