Researchers recently developed a chemical imaging technique using a microscopic mass detection instrument that allows for human skin sections to be analyzed to detect and map the chemical distribution throughout different layers of the skin.
The method can be applied to measure drug or other chemical penetration through the skin in toxicity studies for cosmetics, environmental exposures, or therapeutic drugs.
The technique provides accurate measures of chemical penetration through human skin that has not previously been possible and will help to understand how allergens like nickel absorb into and react with the skin. Nickel, one of the most common human allergens, cannot be detected as an allergen in the current animal test for this effect: the mouse local lymph node assay.
Malmberg P, Guttenberg T, Ericson MB, Hagvall L. Imaging mass spectrometry for novel insights into contact allergy – a proof-of-concept study on nickel. Contact Dermatitis. Published online November 23, 2017. doi: 10.1111/cod.12911.