New Contact Dermatitis Test Developed

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., June 1 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve created a fast, inexpensive test for chemicals that can cause contact dermatitis and one that does not require the use of animals.

The new test can determine whether chemicals in consumer products and at workplaces might cause skin allergies in people.

Itai Chipinda and his colleagues at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, W.Va., sought such a test because of rising public sentiment against the use of animals to determine whether ingredients in consumer soaps, shampoos and other products might cause skin sensitization and contact dermatitis.

Existing chemical tests use substances such as glutathione that mimic skin proteins and bond to allergy-causing ingredients. None, however, is suitable for use in detecting the critical early stages of skin sensitization, the scientists said.

Instead of glutathione, Chipinda and his team developed a test with nitrobenzenethiol as the skin protein surrogate. When used on 20 chemicals known to cause skin irritation, the test produced positive results. It produced negative results when used to test substances that usually do not produce skin sensitization.

“This simple, rapid and inexpensive absorbance-based method has great potential for use as a preliminary screening tool for skin allergens,” the researchers said.

The findings appear in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

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