According to SenzaGen, GARD can provide important safety information about the risk of chemical substances causing allergies in humans.
“To replace a test animal, which is clearly a complex system with blood and organs, you need a more holistic approach to model the entire allergic response within the body,” said Anki Malmborg Hager, CEO of SenzaGen.
A holistic view means looking at the entire human genome to see what reactions cause the allergy, Hager explained.
“In the case of skin sensitisation, we have identified that 200 relevant genes are used and because we are looking at so many parameters within the test, the results are very reliable. Looking at the whole human genome and combining it with the power of AI to train your method, is that it is much more accurate than animal testing,” Hager concluded.
Last July, the China Patent Office granted SenzaGen a patent for GARDskin, the company's test for analysing the risk that chemical substances have on skin allergies.
CEO of CHNALT, Dr Cheng Shu Jun, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that he believes GARD was the next generation of alternative testing methods.
“This method is more innovative. It is a lot more complex. It focuses on genomic testing and can test mixtures and insoluble chemicals. We can incorporate this to toxicology tests. It is also accepted by [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] guidelines.”
Cheng said the companies plan to promote GARD to “top” companies. As most SMEs tend to adopt a “wait-and-see” attitude towards new methods.
He said: “[Top companies] are more willing to accept these methods, and the results of the promotional activities are not bad. Those who take the initiative to accept this are those who aim to establish a world-leading enterprise that exerts an international influence. There are about 50 such companies.”
While Cheng hopes his partnership with SenzaGen will drive change in the industry, he said that they will face tough obstacles. “We also need more training and education in colleges and in the industry.”
He added: “I think [the ban on animal testing] will need more time, maybe five to 10 years.”
Cheng is one of China's leading toxicologists and most vocal champions of animal-free testing. He is also a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he has pioneered a course on toxicology.
With CHNALT as a partner, Cheng can offer his expertise and local industry access to SenzaGen and GARD.
“Ongoing validation method is important for us to continue to promote animal-free testing in China, so we developed a corporation with SenzaGen. The Chinese market is a big market so [CHNALT] can provide opportunities to SenzaGen so they can be the leader in China,” said Chen.
“We are very pleased to be able to initiate a formal collaboration with such an active and well-respected champion of animal-free testing in China,” added Hager.
“Dr Cheng is a strong voice and has been driving the development of alternative testing methods in China for many years. We see many opportunities arising and this collaboration will ensure we are fully prepared the day the market is ready for our products.”