Baxter Laboratories help develop an in-vitro method


Determining safety and skin compatibility of topical skin care and pharmaceutical products.

Baxter Laboratories help develop an in-vitro method for determining safety and skin compatibility of topical skin care and pharmaceutical products

As consumers become increasingly uneasy with product safety tests conducted on animals, scientists are being forced to develop other ways to test product safety, which can still be carried out quickly and are cost effective.

In response to this shift in consumer expectations, Baxter Laboratories, in collaboration with well-respected Melbourne based education institutions Monash University and RMIT, has developed a new IBR (Immune Balance Rating) testing method for assessing reaction to topically applied ingredients and formulations, including the potential for hypoallergenicity. The IBR tests are conducted on human skin cells and immune cells for their likelihood of eliciting an immune system response.

Following five years of research and development, Baxter Laboratories has demonstrated that its IBR test method is now suitable for raw materials, blends of ingredients and finished goods. As this new technology moves from the universities into Baxter Laboratories’ R&D facility, the industry is showing a great deal of interest in the new testing method. The benefits of this test procedure are numerous and include the potential to reduce or eliminate the need for animal testing, to minimise formulation costs and to provide evidence-based (dose-response) information to support product claims.

“The unique property of this testing system is that products can be ranked in order of the immune response they illicit and can essentially rank competing products in order of skin compatibility”, commented Brent Baxter, Director at Baxter Laboratories.

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) recently announced that animal testing will no longer be required for ordinary skin care products, together with other product classes.

“Researchers have successfully demonstrated that fully formulated products can be easily dispersed for culturing with cells – this allowed the IBR rating to be measured simply and rapidly”.

This patented process, using biomarkers in human skin cells and human immune cells has broad appeal, in terms of cost, testing time and reproducibility of results. The IBR test system includes three general product indicators applicable to all dermally applied formulations and two other indicators – immunostimulation, immunosuppression, phototoxicity, protection against UV damage and protection against UV immunosuppression. One star indicates the worst IBR result, whilst 5 stars is the best. Bad ratings can relate to side effects including high infections, increased tumor incidence and toxicity when exposed to light. A good rating indicates low hypoallergenic and no UV photo-ageing.