RIFM & SenzaGen further expand collaboration


“Most of our exposure to fragrance ingredients is via the skin,” says RIFM Senior Scientist, Mihwa Na, PhD, “and the skin is the largest organ of the human body.”

Dr. Na leads the skin sensitization endpoint at the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), working with her colleagues Maura Lavelle, MS, and Isabelle Lee, PhD. RIFM’s Skin Sensitization team conducts safety assessments and research projects that address an ingredient’s potential to induce allergic reactions in the skin—also known as skin sensitization.

(RIFM is currently at work on a dozen skin sensitization-related research projects designed to refine our understanding while eliminating animal testing. Stay tuned for an overview of what is on the horizon.)

“Skin sensitization from fragrance ingredients is a rare but serious allergic response,” Dr. Na explains, “which is why RIFM works to scientifically identify the dose below which we would not expect a fragrance ingredient to induce this condition.”

(Ask a RIFM Scientist: How is skin sensitization different from skin irritation?)

That is why RIFM is expanding its collaboration with SenzaGen. This biotech company has developed a skin assay called GARD® (Genomic Allergen Rapid Detection), which helps predict the possibility of an ingredient to induce skin sensitization.

GARD uses a human cell line called SenzaCell, which acts as an in vitro model of human dendritic cells, which communicate with T cells to start the immune process. SenzaGen’s GARDskin Dose-Response refines GARD’s results, revealing the specific dose at which sensitization would be expected to occur.

“Together with the Expert Panel, we have decided to continue testing priority fragrances for which we want more data,” says Mihwa Na, PhD, Senior Scientist at RIFM. (The Expert Panel for Fragrance Safety is an independent, international team of researchers and academics with no ties to the fragrance industry.) “Part one of the program returned impressive results. We will use these results to determine whether GARD-Dose response is appropriate for predicting the safe use levels of the fragrance materials.”

“We are pleased to be able to contribute to this important project and look forward to our continued collaboration with RIFM, says Axel Sj√∂blad, CEO of SenzaGen.

Further reading: RIFM and SenzaGen focus on skin sensitization.