New animal-free and fermentation-based collagen platform


Source: A_Dudy_Fotolia

Evonik recently announced the development of an advanced collagen platform that is made via fermentation-based processes and devoid of animal- or human-derived materials. The recombinant technology will, for the first time, provide pharmaceutical, medical, cell culture and tissue engineering markets with a highly soluble, ultra-pure form of collagen that is safe, sustainable and commercially scalable.

Substitution for animal-derived collagen

“This is arguably our biggest innovation breakthrough in recent years: a fermentation-based collagen platform that can effectively substitute the use of animal-derived collagen in pharmaceutical, medical, and cell culture markets.” said Dr. Thomas Riermeier, SVP and General Manager for the Health Care business line of Evonik.  “We look forward to working with customers to develop the next-generation collagen products with an improved safety profile.”

“Biotechnology is an important lever for growth and innovation within Evonik Nutrition & Care that leverages our core competencies across fermentation, biomaterials and product industrialization,” said Johann-Caspar Gammelin, Chairman of the Board of Management of Evonik Nutrition & Care.

The new collagen platform strongly complements other recent fermentation-driven biotech breakthroughs that have been pioneered by the company, including biosurfactants for household and cosmetic applications (rhamnolipids) and omega-3 fatty acids from natural marine algae for animal nutrition (Veramaris).

Sustainable and vegan

The company’s proprietary collagen platform features a triple helix structure and other biological properties that mimic many of the attributes of natural collagen, so it can reliably interact with cells and tissues and be readily absorbed or remodelled by the body.

Animal-sourced collagen, currently the main source of collagen for use in life sciences, can be associated with batch-to-batch variability, potential transmission of diseases or pathogens, adverse immunogenic or allergic reactions, and non-sustainable sourcing methods. The new collagen is produced under controlled conditions via a fermentation-based process. In addition to being sustainable and suitable for vegan use, this process delivers an ultra-high level of purity that is easily reproducible at any commercial scale.

Bio fabricated products

The company will utilize its established fermentation process technologies and global manufacturing network to commercialize the collagen platform for worldwide use. The company’s application, formulation and manufacturing competencies will also be used to help customers develop and commercialize their own bio fabricated products.

The new collagen platform will also support the company’s Tissue Engineering Project House, which was launched in Singapore in 2018 by the company’s strategic innovation unit Creavis, to develop advanced biomaterial solutions in regenerative medicine.

About the collagen market

Collagen is the main structural protein family in the body, contributing between a quarter and one third of total protein mass in humans and other mammals. It is important in the formation and functionality of body parts such as skin, tissue, cartilage, organs, bone, bone marrow, cell membranes, ligaments and hair. It is commonly used as a biomaterial in health care due to its biocompatibility, degradability and structural properties that enable cell and tissue interaction. Product application areas include orthopedics, cardiovascular, wound care, ocular care, general surgery, dental care, drug delivery and regenerative medicine. Virtually all medical and pharmaceutical-grade collagen used today is derived from animal-based sources.

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