This Startup Just Made the World’s First Edible Vegan Collagen. Here’s How They Did It

This week, biodesign startup Geltor announced the summer launch of the world’s first edible vegan collagen under the PrimaColl brand in the food and nutrition sector. Created with a range of “designer” functional proteins through microbial fermentation, Geltor’s development is the first true collagen to be produced without cruelly-begotten animal ingredients. 

Geltor, founded by Alex Lorestani, Ph.D. and Nick Ouzounov, Ph.D., creates high-performing consumer proteins entirely free from animals and GMOs. The vegan collagen “delivers greater potency in less volume and does not include secondary components common to animal-derived collagens which can impact solubility and present formulation challenges,” the company told Food Navigator. Geltor’s first-of-its-kind development is an exact replica of Type 21 collagen, known for its ability to induce increased collagen production in cells. “Of the 28 different types of collagen, we selected Type 21 for its multiplier effect in signaling to cells for production of additional collagen. Type 21 is not only exceptional in this way, but extremely rare in nature, making up only a tiny percentage—less than 1 percent—of the total collagen found in the body,” Lorestani said. 

What is vegan collagen?

Unlike animal-based collagen, which is cruelly sourced from animal bones, skin, and cartilage, Geltor’s Type 21 collagen begins with a set of microbes that naturally produce proteins. A DNA sequence is then inserted, programming the microbes to produce the collagen protein. 

While products branded as vegan collagen are readily available on the market today in supplements and beauty products, they do not provide a source of true collagen. Instead, the vegan collagen currently available—commonly referred to as collagen builders or boosters—provides the body with nutrients known to enhance the production of collagen within the body. 

With a third-party clinical trial of PrimaColl currently underway, Geltor’s Vice President of Business Development notes the high interest level among the startup’s customers in adding the vegan collagen to a variety of products from baked goods to gummies.

Photo credit: Audrey Fretz

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