Sophisticated data analysis software is being used to investigate in-vitro testing strategies for cosmetics to replace experiments on animals, following a ban on the practice within the European Union.
The ban applies to new cosmetics and their ingredients sold in the EU, regardless of where in the world testing on animals was carried out. The 27 EU countries have had a ban on such tests since 2009 but, despite this, cosmetics firms were allowed to test animals for the most complex human health effects, such as toxicity which might lead to cancer. However, those tests are now banned too.
Researchers on the Sens-it-iv initiative, a large EU-funded research project dedicated to develop and optimise in vitro test strategies, have been using Qlucore Omics Explorer, to help get the most value out of the data being produced.
Ann-Sofie Albrekt, the bioinformatician in the team, has done a substantial amount of the analyses for the Sens-it-iv project and the further development of the animal-free assay. She is currently focusing on two key areas: looking for new biomarkers in cancer studies, and performing important research on allergens.
She said: ‘In our studies, we are dealing with very large amounts of data, sometimes between 10 and 100 million data points, which we tend to view as graphics. With other software, these graphics would take a long time to appear, but with the latest data analysis tools, the information is presented instantly. As a result, we can be much more creative with our theories, as we can easily test any number of hypotheses in rapid succession.
'In terms of the work we did in the Sens-it-iv project, I am very confident that our success in creating an animal free test system will significantly reduce the number of animals sacrificed for safety testing and as well as increasing the accuracy of the safety tests performed.'