[Source: Kolmar Korea]
Kolmar Korea, a cosmetics and health care company based in Seoul, has joined hands with Sungkyunkwan University’s Biofoundry Center to develop recombinant human collagen that could be applied to functional cosmetics, food and therapeutics.
A biofoundry is an integrated molecular biology platform that includes robotic liquid-handling and high-throughput analytical equipment for a synthetic biology process called `cell factory`. Synthetic biology is a science that artificially manipulates the metabolic circuits or genes of living cells and bacteria and uses the metabolic process to make necessary substances. However, it takes a long time to develop a new bacterial strain that will produce desired substances, and there is a limit to mass production of the strain.
To overcome these shortcomings and improve productivity, artificial intelligence (AI) and robot technology are mobilized at a biofoundry.
Collagen is a type of protein known to be effective in skin elasticity, anti-aging, and skin regeneration, and is plentiful in the bones and skin of vertebrates. The market size of collagen-related products came to about 121.9 billion won ($101 million) in 2019, more than fivefold in three years, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Kolmar Korea and Sungkyunkwan University are planning to synthesize a specific type of human collagen DNA into a microbial strain to secure a production strain and make human-like collagen through the process of mass culturing this strain. As a microbial strain, corynebacterium glutamicum is used, which is an industrial microbe traditionally used to produce amino acids.
Recombinant human-like collagen has a higher absorption rate than collagen derived from animals or plants and has fewer side effects such as allergies. Demand for this collagen is on the rise, but most of related raw materials are imported from abroad.
Synthetic biology is applied not only to cosmetics but also to various industries. It is also used to design and manufacture mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. Biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel are also made through synthetic biology. According to a national research center, the global synthetic biology market was worth $7.3 billion last year and is expected to grow to $10.5 billion by 2023.
By Lee Sae-bom and Minu Kim
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