Jellatech takes another step in the development of collagen bioink
Biomaterials developer Jellatech has announced a new milestone in the development of its 3D printable cell-based collagen bioink.
After two years of development, the company has succeeded in developing a complete, triple helix and functional collagen made from its own proprietary cell lines.
“This is a big milestone for us and I’m beyond proud and thrilled that we’re already here,” said Stephanie Michelsen, CEO of Jellatech. “Being able to see our own cell-based collagen with the naked eye – it brings tears of joy.”
3D printing with collagen
Collagen is one of the most unique and abundant mammalian proteins found in connective tissue, skin, tendons, bones and cartilage. It provides structural support to tissues and plays an important role in cellular processes such as tissue repair, immune response, and cell migration.
The properties of collagen have led it to be widely used in a range of industries, such as biomedical, healthcare, personal care and beauty, materials, and food and beverage. However, since the protein is only found in animals and plants, many companies are looking for other new and sustainable sources.
As for 3D printing applications, so far, collagen-based bio-inks have been engineered with the potential for tissue regeneration, to create breast implants for cancer survivors and to produce artificial cartilage. for the reconstruction of joints, among others.
Cell-based collagen bio-inks have also been instrumental in the growth of the 3D printed alternative meat market, operated by MeaTech, Redefine Meat and others.
Jellatech now believes it has the answer to sustainable cell-based collagen production with the development of its new bio-ink, which it says could lead to new innovative applications in the future.
Jellatech’s collagen bioink
According to Jellatech, cell-based collagen has a number of advantages over plant-based collagen. For example, applications are limited for plant-based collagen bioinks because they are unable to provide the same function as animal-derived collagen.
“Collagen formation is a complex process that requires specialized machinery found only in mammalian cells,” said Christopher Gilchrist, senior scientist at Jellatech. “We are working to harness the innate ability of these cells to produce collagen that is bioidentical to native collagen and do so in a sustainable, animal-free way.”
Avoiding the slaughter of animals altogether, the company’s collagen production process works by taking small samples of skin from animal cell lines which are then grown in bioreactors in its lab. Collagen protein is extracted, purified and filtered through a series of processes to form collagen bioink bioidentical to collagen extracted from animals.
Jellatech calls its process “100% guilt-free” because it completely bypasses animal slaughter and considers it a sustainable alternative source of collagen.
“We are thrilled to see that our cell-derived collagen appears to be bio-identical to animal-derived collagen,” added Rob Schutte, chief scientist at Jellatech. “Because of this, we have a wide range of exciting applications, from biomedicine to cosmetics to food and beverage.”
Convinced that her company’s cellular technology has an edge over other collagen-producing technologies currently contributing to the $8.4 billion global market, Michelsen added, “It is becoming increasingly clear that we need to change many of our existing practices and the way we support our planet.
“This achievement just shows that we have a way and now we have laid the groundwork for a sustainable future of protein production.”
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Featured image shows Jellatech’s pure, white collagen in powder form. Photo via Jellatech.