Collagen Makers Team-Up to Create Animal-Free, Biodesigned Collagen for Dietary Supplements

By StartUp City | Monday, November 25, 2019

A San Leandro-based startup finalized a deal with GELITA to commercialize the first animal-free biodesigned collagen via fermentation process for the dietary supplements in 2020 

FREMONT, CA: Geltor, the company that raised $18.2 million last year in its Series A round from several investors, including GELITA, is now working on a project to produce collagen. The company is utilizing the techniques from synthetic biology to engineer micro-organisms that generate collagen by using a fermentation process that does not harm or use animals. 

Along with producing familiar collagen proteins like gelatin from the fermentation platform, Geltor can also generate customized proteins that have tailored nutritional value and functional properties. The company is manufacturing “new-to-the-world” custom made proteins, states the co-founder Alexander Lorestani. He studied medicine at Rutgers and bacterial pathogenesis at Princeton before he conceptualized Geltor with the molecular biologist Nikoloy Ouzounov in 2015. 

“I can’t provide any more details at this time, but the protein we’re working on with GELITA will be a unique offering in the industry that can provide distinct advantages, and not just because it’s made without animals. It’s not just a straight-up replacement for type I pig collagen.”​


According to the document signed at the Supply Side West Trade show in Las Vegas, Geltor is said to design and generate the collagen proteins, and GELITA will carry out clinical research and commercialize the product. The protein is created mainly with the target as the dietary supplement industry, where the collagen proteins are marketed at present, focusing on areas like joint health, beauty, bone health, and muscle mass maintenance with the likeliness to being the new dietary ingredient (NDI) notification. The deal does not stop Geltor from partnering with other firms for the manufacture of other products. 

“This is the first step, but we’ll continue to look ahead to the broader food and beverage industry to strike partnerships there, whether that’s on an ingredient to provide a physical function ​[such as gelatin with a particular melting temperature, stiffness, or elasticity] or an active function ​[for a particular health benefit] that will be dependent on the partner. ​We’re building the business to broadly serve the CPG industry,” explained Lorestani.

What does it mean when animal-free collagens for customers are discussed? Other than the appeal of entirely new customized proteins, several companies are inclined towards the use of animal-free collagens for reasons related to environmental, ethical, and religious concerns. Many customers fail to realize that the collagen found in consumer products manufactured today is sourced from various skins and bones of animals. 

Many companies have also expressed concerns related to animal diseases, restrictions on supplies, sustainability, or they want to offer vegan products for the customer base. 

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