Written by Dr Carol Treasure

Have you ever thought that every test has a story?! How was the idea conceived and what journey did the scientists behind it undertake to get to the end result? I thought I’d share a small part of one of our “test stories” with you today…

Those familiar with XCellR8 will know we’re a completely animal-product-free (APF) laboratory. That means taking the big step of eradicating all animal derived components from our tests. We’ve been doing this for over a decade.

One of the first tests we adapted to APF was BlueScreen for genotoxicity (which can lead to cancer) – a critical part of safety assessment for chemicals across a range of industries – from cosmetics to household products, foods and pesticides.

We were already working with LUSH, and they needed a fully animal-free, human relevant test to screen their ingredients. Unlike other common tests for genotoxicity (including the famous Ames test), BlueScreen detects all 3 major classes of genotoxin – mutagens (change the DNA code), clastogens (damage chromosomes) and aneugens (change the number of chromosomes) – making it a great screen to capture any possible genotoxic activity for a new ingredient or chemical. So, BlueScreen was our chosen method, and in collaboration with the BlueScreen developer, Gentronix Limited, we adapted the test from foetal bovine serum to human serum, and from rat liver extract to human liver extract. This met Lush’s requirements for an APF, human-relevant test system.

We were challenged with questions about using human liver extract, as rat liver enzymes are artificially induced before sacrificing the animals. So would we pick up all genotoxins? Our rationale was that humans have a very different enzyme profile to rats, qualitatively and quantitatively, and we wanted to screen for chemicals genotoxic to humans, not rats. We wanted to model what’s likely to happen in normal human everyday life, and our human liver extract is pooled from a large number of donors, reflecting the general population more effectively than a single donor. The test results are used with other sources of information to make the final safety assessment.

We validated the adapted test with a panel of reference chemicals and the rest is history! We’ve been providing BlueScreen animal-free as a non-regulatory genotoxicity screen to industry for almost a decade, informing product development and contributing weight of evidence to safety assessments.

Here’s to safer products through human-relevant science! Thanks to our colleagues at Lush for supporting this work.

If you’d like to find out more, you’ll find a technical overview of the test here.
If you want to find out more about our animal-free tests, please get in touch today.

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