Improved skin sensitisation safety assessment

Combining in vitro and in silico approaches for improved skin sensitisation safety assessment

TEMAS adds its expertise to SaferWorldbyDesign

Swiss management consulting firm TEMAS believes that progress only happens when people work together in networks, crossing the boundaries of specialist fields. What the company calls “interconnectedness” is at the center of its business, with over 12,000 “network points” (scientists, engineers, laboratories, universities, specialist firms, cooperation partners and specialist lists).

Dr. Blanca Suarez-Merino, Head of Technology and Expertise, explains how being a Founding Partner of SaferWorldbyDesign pushes these connections even further.

How did TEMAS become part of SaferWorldbyDesign?

TEMAS is currently working with the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health to extend OECD test guidelines TG442D for skin sensitisation to nanoforms under the umbrella of the Gov4nano initiative. At one of the meetings, I met Edelweiss Connect’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Thomas Exner and learned that our two companies are both working on similar goals. TEMAS’s in vitro approach on safety testing and what Edelweiss Connect does in silico are different but complementary approaches to solving the same issue of toxicity evaluation. It made sense to work together to get better predictions. So, TEMAS and Edelweiss Connect began exploring how we could align our work and collaborate.

How is this collaboration shaping up?

We had a look at Edelweiss Connect’s online tool, SaferSkin, and realised that it could be another building block to be included in a risk assessment framework. At the end of the day, if scientists are to follow the 3Rs on in vivo experimentation (replacement, reduction, refinement), they need to rely more on in vitro and in silico solutions. The more data you have, the stronger your prediction.

How does SaferSkin support risk assessment?

Skin sensitisation is a very important endpoint for cosmetics, chemicals, medical devices, etc. Now that animal experiments are banned for cosmetics, in vitro is necessary but following current in vitro strategies can be very expensive for small companies. We felt a tool like SaferSkin, complemented with some of the in vitro approaches, could represent a cost-effective way to approach skin sensitisation, in particular during early product development.

‘We had a look at Edelweiss Connect’s online tool, SaferSkin, and realised that it could be another building block in a risk assessment framework’

How will TEMAS contribute to SaferSkin?

We can help shape the SaferSkin tool to meet the demands of risk assessors, to speak their language. 

‘SaferSkin, complemented with in vitro approaches, could represent a cost-effective way to approach skin sensitisation, in particular during early product development’

TEMAS has already been involved in designing for safety, most recently in nanomaterials. How do those efforts relate to SaferWorldbyDesign?

We developed our own Safe-by-Design (SbD) concept largely within the framework of the European research project NANoREG. Edelweiss Connect works towards that same goal and has interesting tools that could be included in Safe-by-Design approaches. 

What do you think SaferWorldbyDesign can bring to science and industry?

SaferWorldbyDesign represents responsible innovation, keeping sustainable product development in mind from the early R&D phases rather than just assessing for safety at the end to comply with regulations. In the past, TEMAS has helped companies implement processes to reduce hazardous waste, improve worker safety and make manufacturing more ethical through reduced animal experimentation. In turn, these efforts translate into cost-effective ways of working and support current worldwide interests in the circular economy. SaferWorldbyDesign represents a further step in this direction by bringing together different actors working from different angles but with the common perspective of supporting sustainable products and product development.

About Edelweiss Connect

Edelweiss Connect has developed computer software that helps combine data from many different sources and formats into a useable form for evaluation and re-use. In addition, we have developed other software programs that can use the collected data and data from in vitro tests to predict the safety of chemical compounds in the human body.

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