Debut and DIC Corporation team up to create “rare” polyphenols through synthetic biology
23 Mar 2023 --- Debut, a synthetic biology company, along with fine chemicals supplier DIC Corporation have entered an agreement to biomanufacture and sell a large number of sustainably produced, rare and natural polyphenol ingredients.
Although several of these ingredients have only been manufactured at small scales for research, they have shown “exceptional performance” in beauty applications, according to the companies.
Tiny amounts of these bioactive compounds can be found in fruits, vegetables and nature, but the partnership outlines that their rarity makes these compounds too expensive or environmentally unsustainable for use in consumer products, despite their enhanced clinically proven benefits.
“DIC understands the complexities and demands of the beauty industry, so we’re excited to move forward with them to grow and advance new sustainable and high-performance ingredients,” says Dr. Joshua Britton, CEO at Debut.
“Brands need access to new and rare natural ingredients that allow them to win in the marketplace based on their performance and not just a marketing story,” he remarks. “Synthetic biology allows access to incredible products that are otherwise found only in trace quantities in nature.”
“To date, consumers have been using traditional active ingredients when better performing ingredients are available in nature – we just had to work out how to make them for consumers.”
Harnessing enzymes and precision fermentation
This partnership targets the personal care market valued at US$416 billion, with 5% CAGR and aims to compete on both cost and performance relative to traditional cosmetic ingredients.
“Gone are the days of vitamin C, retinols and other more traditional active ingredients; this agreement brings a new wave of ingredients for exciting and innovative consumer products,” state the companies.
This multi-year agreement aims to roll out biosynthesized ingredients following the construction of a commercial biomanufacturing facility built by Debut, which will come online in 2024.
The site will be owned and operated by Debut, with aims to alleviate global biomanufacturing constraints. The company plans to prove its operational flexibility to produce a wide variety of ingredients.
Over recent years, the skincare and personal care industries have increasingly harnessed synthetic biology’s ability to create higher performing and natural ingredients. “Such nature-derived molecules would otherwise be difficult, if not impossible, to access through traditional cultivation or chemical production,” details the partnership.
Debut’s Bio2Consumer platform combines cell-free enzyme catalysis and precision fermentation to eliminate the bottlenecks currently associated with synthetic biology, while requiring “far less” land, water and energy than traditional manufacturing.
Era of synthetic biology in beauty
In recent years, DIC has ramped up its focus on investments in projects that respond to environmental, health and social changes.
“Debut’s vertically integrated synthetic biology platform technology and commitment to transition from discovery to scaled-up biomanufacturing – combined with clinical testing and formulation – is a huge leap for biomanufacturing and will allow us to start seeing synthetic biology derived products on shelves in the global marketplace,” says Kiyofumi Takano, managing executive officer at DIC.
Last April, DIC Corporation signed its second joint development agreement with materials innovation company Checkerspot to scale climate-friendly microalgae solutions for the personal care industry in a “post-petroleum future.”
Among other notable moves by beauty players scaling their bio-based portfolios, with L’Oréal, Unilever and Kao, recently undertaking a new venture to craft new sustainable solutions derived from living organisms.
Kao is also an investor in Unilever and Geno’s US$120 million venture to scale and commercialize plant-based alternatives to controversial palm kernel oil
In the fragrance sector, microbiology merged with perfumery, as University of Glasgow researchers have managed to create “natural but cruelty-free” scents using microbes rather than the usual animal and plant sources.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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