Increasing Collaborations & Partnerships And Government Support In Efforts To Reduce Animal Testing
End-use industries including cosmetics, pharmaceutical, medical devices, chemicals, and food companies are increasingly seeking partnerships and collaborations with the organizations involved in developing non-animal alternative testing technologies. Collaborations of these end-use companies with leading scientists, academic research institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations help them better understand the industry requirements and bottlenecks in the deployment of these alternative technologies.
For instance, Unilever has collaborated with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop alternatives to animal testing strategies. Since 2013, AstraZeneca has been collaborating with Emulate, Inc. to develop organ-on-chip technology, which is expected to reduce the use of animals in research as well as the cost and time of discovery and development. In a similar way, the Estee Lauder Companies recently expanded its partnership with Cruelty-Free International and Humane Society International to end animal testing in cosmetics.
In the USA, Europe, Japan, and other countries, animal tests such as skin irritation, eye irritation, and skin sensitization tests’ regulations are replaced with OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) test guidelines for cosmetics. For instance, the animal test for skin irritation has been substituted with in-vitro reconstructed Human Epidermis (RhE) test methods. The eye irritation test and skin sensitization tests are replaced with reconstructed human cornea-like Epithelium in-vitro ARE-Nrf2 Luciferase test methods.
These efforts will significantly contribute to the growth of the global non-animal alternative testing market, which will grow from around $1 billion in 2019 to $2 billion in 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.40%, and to $6 billion in 2035 at a CAGR of more than 11%.
In addition to these, there are other alternatives to animal tests for cosmetics. For example, L’Oréal developed two alternative techniques for testing cosmetics. The two methods are U-SENS and Human Corneal Epithelium Eye Irritation Test (HCE EIT). U-SENS is a technique designed to detect and predict skin allergies, which occur as a delayed immunological reaction upon repeated contact with a sensitizing substance, whereas HCE EIT is a technique developed to assess eye irritation potential by chemicals. A ban on animal testing in the European Union, and lack of mandatory animal testing requirement in the USA for cosmetics has made it widely possible to use non-animal alternative testing methods for cosmetics.
Government agencies are supporting the research and development of cutting-edge non-animal alternative technologies through grants and investments to researchers and small businesses. This helps the researcher validate more alternative methods, thereby increasing the penetration of alternative technologies. For instance, the US EPA had recently awarded $4.25 million in grants to universities for this research.
In addition to that, the National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) will provide funding for small businesses in the USA to develop novel, engineered 3D or organotypic in vitro systems using cells from experimental animal models used for toxicology testing. NIEHS intends to fund six to eight awards totaling up to $4 million.