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State-of-the-art silk protein patent granted

By Deanna Utroske

11-Nov-2015
Last updated on 11-Nov-2015 at 17:46 GMT2015-11-11T17:46:28Z

liquid silk and silk powder (photo courtesy of Silk Therapeutics)
liquid silk and silk powder (photo courtesy of Silk Therapeutics)

Specialty biotechnology company Silk Therapeutics announced late last month that the US Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent for its non-GMO, stable liquid silk protein. Cosmetics Design connected with that company’s CEO, Greg Altman, to get the details.

The company has essentially changed the way silk and its useful elements are sourced for the personal care and beauty industries. “Until now, silk has only existed in its natural fiber form,” says Altman.

What’s new

He describes Silk Therapeutics’ innovation this way:

“Silk is a protein made up of a number of different amino acids. Fortuitously, these same amino acids are also found in human skin. The structure of raw silk can be broken down into two components: fibroin (the fiber) and sericin (a coating). At a molecular level, silk fibroin is innately compatible with human skin and allows it to foster the active regeneration cycle.

“Through our patented process, we separate these two parts, and then return the fibroin to a pure, stable liquid form. We discard the sericin portion, because for a very few individuals, it could have some antigenic properties. Each Silk Therapeutics product uses silk fibroin as the primary ingredient.”

The company produces anti-aging skin care designed to help skin make healthy collagen. And Altman explains that the silk protein can also be used to deliver actives without chemicals of concern, thus “eliminating the majority of synthetic fillers and harsh preservatives found in many skin care products today.”

Judicious tech

Personal care and beauty consumers appreciate products that are formulated with deference to nature and that take full advantage of cutting-edge science.“We see a burgeoning awareness within consumer segments across multiple age groups that are seeking authentically clean and effective skin care solutions,” acknowledges Altman. “The consumer is no longer content with luxury, green or organic labels that contain lengthy ingredient lists, yet provide no associated explanation of the product’s purpose or benefits.”

Consequently, “Silk Therapeutics…lives at the intersection of natural silk polymers and advanced biotechnology,” Altman tells Cosmetics Design.

He adds, “based on the concept of biomimicry, where we leverage the knowledge of nature’s most impressive designs, our belief in silk’s potential comes from a deep understanding on how silk fibers are spun in nature.”

The company prides itself on being “cruelty-free.” And Altman notes that the patented technology “does not rely on or use reeled silk fiber, but rather [purifies] its natural silk directly from the cocoon of the B mori silk moth following metamorphosis.”

Innovation pipeline

The company is at work on further manufacturing and formulating techniques for natural silk protein. “Our pipeline includes novel formulations and product forms including serums, gels and films that can stabilize, transport and deliver active molecules and drugs for the treatment and enhancement of skin,” Altman tells Cosmetics Design.

In 2016 Silk Therapeutics intends to add exfoliators and skin-type specific moisturizers to its anti-aging product line. Beyond that, “we intend to pursue product opportunities that will eliminate the unnecessary use of unregulated chemicals used in today’s consumer products,” says Altman.

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