US process patent given to Keratec for wool extract

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Protein

Keratec announced it has received a US patent covering its
manufacturing process for extracting keratin from sheep's wool.

Together with its US-based partner, Keraplast Technologies, Keratec has worldwide rights for using the keratin extracted in its New Zealand laboratories for use in medical applications. However, the company also develops and manufactures keratin-based biomedical, industrial and consumer products. The current patent covers the Keratec's functional keratin range of manufacturing technology – a regulatory umbrella for the keratin-extraction step used in many of the company's products and technologies. "Having our manufacturing processes fully protected is an important part of advancing closer to market with several ranges of functional keratin products and technologies in the United States,"​ said Keratec CEO Bruce Foulds. The patent (US patent 7,148,327) covers the production of soluble keratin derivatives and also makes mention of the mild nature of the process. "The process is economically and environmentally acceptable by virtue of the cost of reagents that are used, and the recycling of some of those reagents, and is suitable for the production of soluble proteins on a large scale,"​ said the patent. Keratin is the main constituent in skin, hair and nails. Normally non-soluble, the New Zealand biotech company has developed a method for extracting the structural protein from wool in a soluble, digestible form by separating wool fiber into its keratin parts without destroying them. The first supplement ingredient based on this technology – Cynatine FLX – was launched in 2005 and uses a keratin constituent with an amino acid profile that has been shown in pre-clinical tests to play a role in joint health. The company claims Cynergy can improve skin elasticity, hydration and skin cell antioxidant activity, and that this is backed by human data. The process protected by the patent includes using oxidative sulfitolysis followed by a second stage of 'mild conditions' to extract the soluble protein. The soluble keratin proteins are fractionated into the S-sulfonated keratin intermediate filament proteins and S-sulfonated keratin high sulfur proteins. The biologic material manufacturing patent group is one of seven patent groups being pursued by the company.

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