New Start-Up Company to Create Vegan Gelatin!
Gelzen Inc., a San Francisco-based start-up company that was fueled by IndieBio, is currently working on developing a vegan version of gelatin for use in food, as well as in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.
Vegetarians and vegans have always had to be aware of the ingredient gelatin–found in many sweets, capsule cases, and even beer, as it is derived from the collagen of animals. While some alternatives exist, such as apple pectin and agar, this new product is said to be a perfect substitute for gelatin.
The company was founded by Alexander Lorestani and Nikolay Ouzonov, with both partners having different but relevant reasons for beginning this venture. Lorestani was in a physician-scientist training program and was learning of the high risk of infectious disease due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a result of the use of them in farm animals. Ouzounov has a PhD in Molecular Biology at Princeton University, and as a vegetarian, was seeking alternatives to animal-based gelatin.
How exactly does this duo make the gelatin? Lorestani stated:
“We make gelatin from scratch by programming microbes to build it for us. It’s the same approach that humans use to brew beer, make insulin, and many other animal-free products.”
As Lorestani was interested in stopping the transfer of pathogens or diseases from animals to humans, the way in which his company’s animal-free gelatin was made was crucial. It will therefore not only be safer for human consumption as well as be cruelty-free, but also sustainable. He states:
“We have taken the machinery that builds collagen in animals, and moved it into microbes. These microbes can produce animal-free gelatin at massive scales. Building gelatin from scratch also eliminates the risk of pathogens that can be transmitted from animal material to humans, greatly improves the efficiency of protein production by using fewer land and water inputs, and allows us to precisely engineer its key properties like stiffness.”
The partners are already at the stage of focusing on increasing production, and getting customers to test their samples out. Lorestani added that the vegan community has showed a great interest, stating:
“We are thrilled by how supportive the vegan community has been. There’s a real and urgent need for animal-free gelatin, and we’re working hard to get it out there!”
With New Wave Foods, another start-up company funded by IndieBio, focusing on creating algae-based shrimp, it seems vegans and vegetarians do have a lot to look forward to–including sustainable and animal-free gelatin!
Photo Credit: http://biotechin.asia/