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October 6, 2014

EpiSkin Biotech License helps China to Advance Cosmetics without Animal Testing

Humane Society International

  • EpiSkin artificial human skin test. ECVAM

Chinese authorities have granted a license for Shanghai EpiSkin Biotechnology Ltd to market its reconstructed human skin model. The development is hailed by Humane Society International’s China team as an important step towards enabling domestic cosmetics companies to replace animal tests with modern in vitro methods, and in so doing, take advantage of the very latest research technologies in product safety.

Since China’s Food and Drug Administration introduced regulatory reforms in July, Chinese companies producing ordinary cosmetics no longer need to test finished products on animals, allowing for a substantial reduction in animal testing. The next step will be to increase the availability, uptake and acceptance of new in vitro technologies, and the licensing of EpiSkin marks an important step towards that goal.

Tina Qu, HSI’s China Regulatory Affairs manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome EpiSkin to the Chinese market. Modern in vitro methods such as this are important research innovations that can replace scientifically limited animal tests with cutting-edge human-relevant techniques. Species differences mean that rat or rabbit skin are not ideal models for assessing effects in humans, so in vitro methods like EpiSkin that use human skin cells can have the potential to improve the quality of safety testing. The Chinese EpiSkin model can provide even greater relevance by using Asian keratinocytes to create the human epidermis. 

“In addition to hands-on training in non-animal tests funded by Humane Society International and others, the launch of EpiSkin will further help companies take advantage of these new technologies. It is very encouraging to see China investing in essential infrastructures for modern in vitro and computational tools. This is a growth area for Chinese businesses, demonstrating that advances in regulatory science go hand in hand with rigorous product safety assessment and high standards of consumer protection.”

HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree China campaign is leading national efforts to end animal testing for cosmetics, and has an on-going commitment to facilitate in vitro method training for Chinese scientists. In April HSI teamed up with the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to provide intensive laboratory-based training in eye and skin irritation testing without animals. These methods can replace tests in which chemicals are dripped in the eyes of live rabbits or spread on the shaved skin of mice and guinea pigs. The training was part of an $80,000 grant from HSI, The Humane Society of the United States and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium.

EpiSkin was first developed by SkinEthic Laboratories, owned by L’Oréal. EpiSkin is an in vitro reconstructed human epidermis made from surgery-donated human keratinocytes (cells) in culture.  

Media contacts:
United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins, HSI’s EU Communications Director, +44(0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org
China: Irene Zhang, HSI’s Be Cruelty-Free China coordinator, izhang@hsi.org

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