Start-up Jellatech announces successful production of cell-based collagen

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2 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Jellatech team holding sample

Image courtesy of Jellatech

North Carolina-based biotech company Jellatech has produced its first sample of cell-based collagen.

The company says it has developed a full-length triple helical and functional collagen from its proprietary cell lines.

The start-up’s CEO and Co-Founder Stephanie Michelsen revealed the successful news at Bühler Networking Days 2022, which takes place in Uzwil, Switzerland.

“This is a major milestone for us and I am beyond proud and excited that we are already here. Being able to see our clean cell-based collagen with the naked eye – it brings happy tears,” Michelsen said in a statement.

Collagen is a protein typically taken from the bones, connective tissues, skin, cartilage, or tendons of animals. It has many benefits, including improving the health of skin, joints and gut.

The collagen market is currently valued at $8.4 billion according to Jellatech.

It is usually found in the form of enriched powders, tablets and drinks, as well as in biomedical, health, personal care and beauty industry applications.

Founded in 2020 by Michelsen and Kylie van Deinsen-Hesp, Jellatech has been working to develop a cell-derived collagen that is “animal-free”.

Since then, the company has raised $2 million in a seed round, and secured investment from cellular agriculture focused firm CULT Food Sciences. Co-Founder Michelsen was also featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2021.

“We’re thrilled to see that our cell-derived collagen appears bio-identical to collagen derived from animals. Because of this, we have a wide range of exciting applications from biomedicine to cosmetics to food and beverage,” said Rob Schutte, Head of Science at Jellatech.

Other companies have been working to find alternatives to unsustainable collagen production through fermentation and plant-based technologies. These applications however don’t tend to “provide the same function”, says Jellatech, as they are not bio-identical to animal-based collagen.

Cell-based collagen technology could fix this problem. Christopher Gilchrist, Senior Scientist at the company said: “Collagen formation is a complex process that requires specialised machinery found only in mammalian cells. We’re working to harness the innate ability of these cells to produce collagen that is bio-identical to native collagen and do it in a sustainable and animal-free way.”

Jellatech is not the only start-up breaking into cell-based collagen. Israeli start-up Aleph Farms, is working to develop its product from the cells of cows, which it hopes will become a viable alternative to the more traditional collagen production process which involves boiling cow hide and bones and drying them into a powdered form.  

Related article: What is collagen good for?

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