Ask a RIFM Scientist

Two people in lab coats having a discussion over a microscope and tablet
Placeholder headshot

How can we better predict skin sensitization?

Isabella Schember, PhD

As part of its ongoing Safety Assessment of individual fragrance ingredients, the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) gauges the impact of these ingredients on the skin to determine their risk for causing skin sensitization.

Using an animal-alternative tool called the direct peptide reactivity assay, or DPRA, scientists can help predict the likelihood that a substance might induce sensitization. But the DPRA may not account for how a substance metabolizes, or changes form over time, in the skin.

Metabolism, which is when the skin breaks down substances, can alter the safety profile of some substances during the process. That is why RIFM is studying the PPRA, or peroxidase peptide reactivity assay. The PPRA mimics the process of metabolism, providing greater insight into a fragrance ingredient’s safe use.

In collaboration with scientists at Procter & Gamble, RIFM is combining datasets to get a better understanding of what fragrance ingredients can be best predicted using the PPRA. While this research is in the early stages, we hope to be adding the PPRA to our safety assessment toolkit as an additional alternative to animal testing.

Post-Doctoral Scientist Isabella Schember, PhD, supports RIFM’s Skin Sensitization Research and Safety Assessment programs.