Texas A&M researchers working to make cosmetics, cleaning products safer

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COLLEGE STATION, Tex. - From makeup to dish detergent to shampoo, there's a new effort underway at Texas A&M to make sure the products we use everyday are as safe as possible.

Dr. Ivan Rusyn says, "As a toxicologist, I'm very passionate about new developments in the field and being able to use them to better address human health hazards."

That's exactly what Rusyn and his team are doing. They are one of three groups across the country testing tissue chips.

He says, "Tissue chips are bio-engineered devices that allow us to have cells that behave much closer to human organs."

The chips even mimic how blood flows through our bodies. This, the researchers say, could be a big game-changer when it comes to making sure everyday products are as safe as possible.

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, things like cosmetics and cleaning solutions can't be tested on people.

Dr. Weihsueh Chiu says, "It's unethical to test a product that might be harmful to humans on humans if those humans aren't going to get a benefit.">

So currently, they're tested on animals or on different lab equipment, but neither of those options can predict with certainty how a product will affect people.

That's where tissue chips come in.

Dr. Chiu says, "It's a closer model to how humans might be exposed without actually exposing humans."

Dr. Rusyn and his team will test the tissue chips at a lab at Texas A&M for the next two years. Assuming all goes well and they find the chips are as effective as they think they will be, they estimate major companies will start using the technology within five years.

Tissue chips could have a big impact on medicine too. Major pharmaceutical companies could use them to test their drugs, and then get them on the market quicker than they ever have before.