“Bringing together academic knowledge with industry experts enabled Jellagen to scale up novel protein purification methods for use in commercial medical applications.”
Biotechnology firm Jellagen is replacing traditionally sourced mammalian collagen with collagen sourced from jellyfish. Over the course of five years, Andrew and his team have continuously innovated to develop a scalable collagen extraction process which is both safe and sustainable.
Although collagen has been used in medical applications for many years, it has been typically extracted from mammalian sources, such as pigs, rats, and cows, which poses a risk of human disease transmission and is associated with pro-inflammatory responses. Inspired by his background in marine microbiology and biotechnology, Andrew set up Jellagen with the aim of extracting Collagen Type 0, an ancient form of collagen derived from jellyfish to be used in medical and pharmaceutical markets as a safer alternative.
Collagen Type 0 has the ability to trigger regeneration in tissues as opposed to inflammation. This is achieved by stimulating a lower pro-inflammatory response and a higher anti-inflammatory response than mammalian collagens. Less inflammation allows for a more structured tissue regeneration, offering more potential for this material to promote better healing and improved patient benefits.
There is an enormous overpopulation of jellyfish in UK seas resulting from overfishing of predator species and ocean plastic pollution, with the plastic providing additional surfaces for jellyfish reproduction. Whilst allowing for sustainable jellyfish harvesting, extracting and purifying collagen at scale from a new biological resource still required refinement. Critically, at each stage of the purification process, Andrew was able to develop an optimised proprietary process which does not damage the structure of the collagen and retains the key properties of the protein.
Jellagen partnered with a UK engineering firm that took the company from laboratory scale production to a manufacturing system capable of multi-kilogram level production. They now have the infrastructure to provide large-scale collagen production which can be used globally in medical applications such as tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and cell culture.