Tests for skin treatments could be screened using flatworms rather than other animals such as rabbits, according to new research.
A team at the University of Reading and Newcastle University have found that planaria, a type of flatworm, can be used as a reliable alternative for testing topical skin products used to treat human tissues such as the eyes, nose or vagina to ensure that they are not harmful.
The paper, published in Toxicology in Vitro, shows how the use of a fluorescent dye mixed with a potential skin product is absorbed through the outer layers of skin in the planaria.
The tests are cheaper and more ethical than existing animal tests, because planaria are readily available and easily cultured in a laboratory — and don’t experience suffering. While other tests are carried out on human skin cells in a petri dish, the new screening method would provide a