What is Acute Toxicity?

The term acute toxicity describes the adverse effects of substances on our bodies following a single exposure or multiple exposures in a short period of time (typically 24h) This includes ingredients of:

  • Shampoos, conditioners, bath and shower products
  • Skincare and make-up
  • Household cleaning products
  • Pesticides and fertilisers
  • Food additives
  • Healthcare products

Acute toxicity can result from both synthetic and natural ingredients.

one brown ratWhat’s currently used to test Acute Toxicity?

More than 80,000 animals are currently used every year in acute toxicity testing in the EU alone, using the outdated “LD50” type methods, even though they’ve been widely discredited. The LD50 test involves dosing the animals (usually rats) with the test substance to find out the amount which causes death in 50% of the individuals – the lethal dose, hence LD50.

Why is the LD50 test flawed?

Not only is the test ethically unacceptable, it’s poor science too, with very little relevance to humans due to the anatomy and response of rodents being so different to us as well as the doses administered being highly unlikely in ‘real life’. The LD50 method is of extremely limited value when it comes to interpreting the consequences for day-to-day life, when humans are exposed to much lower concentrations in a range of application scenarios. For example, our exposure to an ingredient in a personal care product could vary enormously depending on whether it’s a rinse-off or leave-on product. When it comes to make up, extent of use can play a big part, for example, how many times a day lipstick is re-applied. When it comes to household cleaning products, some users may wear a mask or gloves and use the product more regularly than others.

Why is developing a non-animal acute toxicity test so important?

  • It saves innocent animals’ lives
  • Animal-free testing methods are much more reliable – accurately predicting results with increased relevance to humans
  • Innovative research using the latest science will change the future

2 brown ratsThe story so far

At XCellR8, we’re determined to play our part in finding a scientifically and ethically advanced solution by developing a cell culture-based test that’s much more relevant to our real-life exposure to chemicals – using ethically donated human cells. We have a great track record of developing adaptations of existing safety tests, where all animal components have been eliminated that have gone to be incorporated into OECD test guidelines for regulatory approval. Our vision is to eradicate all animals and animal products from safety and efficacy testing

The acute toxicity project began in May 2021 thanks to being awarded an amazing 70% of funding through Innovate UK  and we have made great progress in overcoming the scientific challenges of developing a validated test suitable to replace animal models. But we still needed to raise the other 30%.

Great news for animals & science as Animal Aid come onboard

Animal Aid LogoToday we are delighted to announce the receipt of £51k funding from Animal Aid, the national campaign group. This is an amazing contribution towards the final 30% needed for the acute toxicity project. The funds will be vital in supporting our current work to develop and commercialise a ground-breaking acute toxicity test. This funding directly supports the project which will develop a 100% animal-product free (or vegan), human relevant, and validated laboratory test for acute toxicity. This will have significant potential to completely replace the use of animals and animal products.

Iain Green, Director of Animal Aid, comments:

‘Animal Aid are delighted to be announcing our support for XCellR8 and their ground-breaking work to replace the outdated and incredibly cruel LD50 test. It’s incredible that tests such as these persist today. The tide is turning against animal experiments – the scientific evidence of their unreliability and the public repulsion at the breeding, harming and killing of animals is mounting every day. It’s time for humane, cutting-edge science, the likes of which is exemplified by XCellR8’.

Animal Aid x XCellR8 #sciencenotsacrificeCarol Treasure, Founder and CEO of XCellR8 said:

“We are immensely grateful to Animal Aid for this huge show of support for our mission to develop scientifically and ethically advanced safety testing. Our values are closely aligned, driven by the desire to eradicate animal suffering and cruelty, so we are excited to work alongside them to raise awareness about the need to replace animal-based acute toxicity testing with more human relevant approaches, from both ethical and scientific viewpoints. This funding paves the way to develop robust non-animal laboratory tests and make them available to industry, directly reducing the numbers of animals used.”

We welcomed Animal Aid into our lab to talk about why this collaboration is so important:

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