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Steps being taken with new in vitro method for bioaccumulation assessment

With our latest bioaccumulation testing approved by the OECD in 2018, we are leading the fragrance industry with new non-animal testing alternatives for bioaccumulation assessment.

To ensure that molecules do not harm the environment, screening is crucial in weeding out potentially dangerous substances. This can be achieved through testing for bioaccumulation – which occurs when molecules are taken up by fish and accumulate in the fish’s fatty tissues – to ensure our molecules are not entrenched in fish and thus do not enter the animal food chain. Traditionally, this question has been addressed through fish bioaccumulation studies which involve, however, a large number of animals to test on. Aside from bioaccumulation tests, toxicity tests equally constitute an integral part of chemical legislation which determines the characteristics of persistence (linked to biodegradability).

Our researchers were interested in whether it was possible to predict fish bioaccumulation with real accuracy by testing fish cells or enzymes as an alternative measure. They developed a method that puts fish liver cells or fish enzymes in contact with fragrance molecules, and measures the decrease of the molecule. This test allows to evaluate whether the molecule is highly metabolised indicating a lower risk of bioaccumulation in fish.

The approach therefore replaces animal testing, a method which uses living fish and is predictive: the higher the metabolism of the molecule, the lower the risk of bioaccumulation in fish. It is routinely used to develop non-bioaccumulative new molecules as part of Givaudan’s Safe by Design strategy.

These innovative test methods on fragrance molecules provide multiple benefits: removing the need for testing on animals, ensuring safety for use on human skin, and protecting aquatic species and the environment. For customers, particularly in the cosmetics industry, this means that products can be brought quicker to market, with the assurance that the ultimate beneficiary is the consumer.