Jelly babies

August 11, 2011

The Column

The Column, The Column-08-05-2011, Volume 7, Issue 14

A new study is reporting a method for producing human-derived gelatin, which could provide a substitute for some of the 300??000 tons of animal-based gelatin produced annually.

Gelatin is a well-known biopolymer, especially prominent in the food industry where it is used in gummy sweets and marshmallows, but also used in the pharmaceutical industry for drug capsules and in the cosmetics industry. A new study is reporting a method for producing human-derived gelatin,1 which could provide a substitute for some of the 300  000 tons of animal-based gelatin produced annually.

Gelatin is usually made from the bones and skin of cows and pigs, which may carry a risk of infectious diseases such as “Mad Cow” disease, and can lead to allergic reactions in some people. To avoid this, researchers have developed a method where human gelatin genes are inserted into a strain of yeast, that can produce gelatin with controllable features.

Gel electrophoresis and liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry analysis were used to confirm that the results contained the necessary gelatin proteins. Further spectroscopic tests revealed characteristics consistent with those of gelatin.

The researchers are still testing the human-yeast gelatin to see how well it compares with other gelatins in terms of its viscosity and other attributes.

1. H. Duan et al., J. Agric. Food Chem., 59(13), 7127–7134 (2011).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.