Evonik reports 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 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, according to Thomas Riermeier, PhD, senior VP and general manager for the health care business line of Evonik.

“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 Riermeier. “We look forward to working with customers to develop the next-generation collagen products with an improved safety profile.”

The new collagen platform complements other recent fermentation-driven biotech breakthroughs by the company, including biosurfactants for household and cosmetic applications (rhamnolipids) and omega-3 fatty acids from natural marine algae for animal nutrition (Veramaris), added  Johann-Caspar Gammelin, chairman of the Board of Management of Evonik Nutrition & Care.

Evonik’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 remodeled by the body, explained Riermeier. 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, he continued, noting that  Evonik’s 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,” he said.

Evonik plans to 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 biofabricated products. The new collagen platform will also support Evonik’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.

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