What is acute toxicity?

Acute toxicity means short-term effects of chemicals on our bodies. 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. Acute toxicity testing of cosmetic ingredients and other substances is required by a range of legislation including REACH.

The problem with animal acute toxicity tests

More than 80,000 animals are used every year in acute toxicity testing in the EU alone, and millions worldwide. For almost 100 years, acute toxicity has been tested using cruel and old-fashioned “LD50” type animal tests, even though they’ve been widely discredited.

There are variations of the LD50 test to reflect the 3 main routes by which chemicals enter the body: by mouth, by inhalation, or across the skin. LD50 stands for Lethal Dose to 50% of the animals used. Chemicals are assessed for short term toxic effects by dosing animals with increasing concentrations until scientists find the dose that is lethal to 50% of the animals.

It’s ethically unacceptable AND it’s bad science too, with very little relevance to humans.

The solution

Thanks to funding from Innovate UK and Animal Aid , we’ve already developed our first new method to replace acute toxicity testing. “AcutoX” is a human cell-based screen that predicts the toxicity of chemicals entering the human body by mouth. It’s already being used by some leading companies, and crucially, regulators are interested in incorporating the test into their recommended programmes. So, we already know we can do this. We have a track record of turning funding support into real-life solutions that are ending animal testing.

But we’re only at the tip of the iceberg, and our talented scientists can do so much more. We’re now expanding our work to make the AcutoX test relevant to chemicals used in lots of industries, from cosmetics and household cleaning products to automotive, aerospace, agriculture and healthcare. The next steps will massively increase the impact of the test and add further weight to our conversations with global companies and regulators. More companies will start using AcutoX instead of animals, with an immediate and direct impact on replacing animal testing with truly cruelty-free, better science.

What can you do?

We need your help! We’re a small lab with a big dream, and our research is expensive. Will you travel with us on our journey to end animal testing by donating whatever you can afford? We’re going milestone by milestone, and right now we need to raise £100,000 to enable this crucial work to continue. We’ve laid the foundations, but building momentum is essential. We’d love you to walk alongside us and we’ll be providing regular updates on social media. You’ll have a window on our lab, with our wonderful team of talented young scientists as they go forward with this ground-breaking research, thanks to you.

Find out more about acute toxicity here.

Donate now.