Jellatech: “Utilizing Animal Cells for Collagen Production Enables us to Offer a Genuinely Bio-Identical Collagen Product”

In June of last year, US-based biotech company Jellatech announced a huge milestone with the development of cultivated collagen made from the company’s own proprietary cell lines.

Unlike its competitors, Jellatech has developed a product that is bio-identical to collagen, which is naturally only found in animals. The discovery has the potential to be used across multiple sectors, including medicine, cosmetics, and the food industry.

Recently, Jellatech raised $3.5 million in an oversubscribed seed round to scale its manufacturing platform and introduce cell-based proteins to the global market. The company also announced a partnership with CULT Food Science in April to develop pet food made with cultivated collagen.

We spoke to founder and CEO Stephanie Michelsen to find out more about the groundbreaking products developed by the company.

Congratulations on recently raising $3.5 million in seed funding in an oversubscribed round. Can you share a little about the primary investors in the round, and how the funds will be allocated?
The funds from the Seed Round will be allocated towards advancing our research and development efforts, scaling up cellular agriculture processes, expanding our world-class team of scientists and engineers, and accelerating the commercialization of our innovative proteins. In addition, we will establish key strategic partnerships to maximize our global reach and impact.

Biotech startup Jellatech announces it has raised $3.5 million in an oversubscribed seed round to scale its manufacturing platform
Image courtesy of Jellatech

Jellatech recently achieved a major milestone by developing cell-based human collagen. Could you share more details about the applications and significance of human collagen?
Human collagen is used for a variety of medical and cosmetic purposes due to its compatibility with the human body. Some common uses include:

Dermal Fillers: Human collagen can be used in dermal fillers to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as to add volume to the skin. It helps plump up areas of the face and restore your youthful appearance.
Wound Healing: Collagen dressings and scaffolds made from human collagen can be used to promote wound healing. They provide a supportive matrix for cells to grow, which is especially helpful in chronic wounds or burns.
Tissue Engineering: Human collagen is used in tissue engineering applications to create artificial skin, cartilage, and other tissues for transplantation or research purposes. It provides a natural matrix for cells to adhere to and grow on.
Orthopedic Surgery: Collagen can be used in orthopedic surgeries, such as repairing tendons or ligaments. It can act as a scaffold for tissue regeneration.
Ophthalmic Applications: Collagen is used in some ophthalmic surgeries, including corneal implants and procedures to correct vision problems.
Dental Procedures: Collagen can be used in dental procedures, periodontal treatments, and oral surgery, to aid in tissue regeneration and wound healing.
Cosmetics: Collagen is a common ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products. It is often used in creams, serums, and masks to improve skin elasticity and hydration.
Medical Research: Human collagen is a valuable tool in medical research to study cell behavior, tissue growth, and various diseases.

It’s worth noting that while human collagen is used in some applications, collagen from other sources, such as bovine (cow) or porcine (pig) collagen, is also widely used in various industries and medical procedures. The choice of collagen source depends on the specific application and regulatory approvals in different regions. Unfortunately, human collagen is very expensive and not readily available — which is why we are so excited to have added this to our protein portfolio and be able to produce it “on-demand”/reliably and safely as well at a lower cost and at scale soon.

© brandybairdphoto/Jellatech

Jellatech now produces bovine, porcine, and human cell-based collagen. Could you elaborate on the different applications for each of these proteins and why they are all important?
Jellatech’s production of bovine, porcine, and human cell-based collagen provides a range of collagen options with distinct applications and significance. Here’s a breakdown of the different applications for each type of collagen and why they are important:

Bovine Cell-Based Collagen:

  • Bovine collagen is commonly used in cosmetics and skin care products to enhance skin elasticity and hydration. It can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Bovine collagen is used in the food industry as a gelling agent and thickener in various products like gummy candies and gelatin desserts.
  • Bovine collagen can be used in pharmaceutical applications, such as drug delivery systems and wound dressings.

This type of collagen is widely accessible and cost-effective. It serves as a versatile option for various industries, including cosmetics, food, and pharmaceuticals.

Porcine Cell-Based Collagen:

  • Porcine collagen is used in biomedical applications, particularly in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. It serves as a scaffold for tissue regeneration and repair, making it valuable for surgeries and wound healing.
  • Porcine collagen can be used in dermal fillers and treatments to improve texture and appearance.

This type of collagen is chosen for its compatibility with human tissue and its suitability in medical and cosmetic applications where biocompatibility is crucial.

Human Cell-Based Collagen:

  • Human cell-based collagen is especially important for medical and surgical applications, including wound healing, tissue reconstruction, and orthopedic surgeries. Its biocompatibility is unmatched as it closely matches the human body’s natural collagen.
  • Human collagen is essential for pharmaceutical research to study human-specific tissue interactions and diseases accurately.
Jellatech Inc. team

Having a variety of collagen sources, including bovine, porcine, and human cell-based collagen, is essential because different applications and industries have distinct requirements. The availability of these options allows for flexibility and tailoring collagen products to specific needs, whether it’s for cosmetic purposes, wound healing, tissue engineering, or research. It also ensures that biocompatible options are available for medical procedures, which require close mimicry of human collagen. Overall, this diversity in collagen sources enables a wide range of applications across various fields, catering to the diverse needs of industries and consumers.

What sets Jellatech apart from other companies producing collagen without animals?
Utilizing animal cells for collagen production enables us to offer a genuinely bio-identical collagen product, meaning there is no difference in our collagen compared to that derived from animals/humans. These cells possess the inherent expertise needed for synthesizing collagen and our role is simply to stimulate this natural process.

“There is no difference in our collagen compared to that derived from animals/humans”

Conversely, employing an animal-free approach would require instructing non-collagen-producing entities to manufacture bio-identical collagen, which is a challenging and seemingly impossible endeavor which is why many other companies end up with only collagen peptides, not full-length, bio-identical collagen.


Collagen production is a complex process that requires more than just transcribing DNA and having the right ratio of amino acids present. There are various intracellular and extracellular steps that have to occur properly to make functional collagen. The advantage with cell ag is you are able to harvest cells that already contain the proper machinery that’s required for collagen production. Fermentation lacks the ability to create full-length collagen; instead, it’s peptides, only a subsection of the protein, that are produced, which do not have the same functional properties as full-length collagen and cannot be processed into gelatin.

In terms of regulation in the United States, are there any specific challenges or hurdles that you’ve encountered when it comes to getting your products to market? How are you addressing these regulatory barriers?
Depending on the application there may be some potential regulatory processes. As a B2B company, we are not developing the final end-use product so the regulatory approval may not depend on us. Some applications and industries require little-to-no regulatory approval, and others are more regulated. We have begun the regulatory approval process and due to the nature of the production process, we don’t expect any major hurdles preventing us from getting approval. By using cells and being able to separate the protein from the cells, DNA, etc. Jellatech’s product is considered bio-identical and the cells are seen as processing aids, not the product itself. This is a unique advantage that Jellatech has over its competitors.

You mentioned plans to tackle other cell-based proteins. Could you provide some insight into which proteins Jellatech intends to work on next and the potential applications for these proteins?
Collagen is our first product/protein, but with our technology platform, we are able to scale and expand our portfolio of different species (beyond human, cow, and pig) into other species and other proteins such as other high-value proteins that can currently only be sourced from the animal kingdom. We are focusing on proteins where engineering other organisms (such as fermentation or plant-based methods) cannot deliver.

What types of partnerships is Jellatech initially hoping to secure, and in which application areas do you see the most potential for collaboration?
A few potential application areas for collaboration are:

Food and Beverage (F&B):
Jellatech could seek partnerships with F&B companies to provide innovative collagen-based ingredients for use in various foods and beverage products, such as gummy candies, protein bars, and functional beverages. Collaborations in this sector may involve joint product development, co-branding, or white-labeling agreements.

Personal Care and Cosmetics:
Partnerships in the personal care and cosmetics industry are common for collagen producers. Jellatech might collaborate with skincare and cosmetic companies to incorporate collagen into anti-aging creams, serums, and other beauty products. These partnerships could involve formulation expertise and co-marketing efforts to promote collagen-infused products.

© Jellatech

Pharmaceuticals and Medical Research:
Collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and research institutions is crucial for the development of collagen-based pharmaceuticals, drug delivery systems, and wound healing solutions. Partnerships in this area might focus on clinical trials, research projects, and the development of customized collagen-based medical solutions.

Biomedical and tissue engineering:
Jellatech’s collagen could be used in tissue engineering applications, making partnerships with biomedical companies and researchers essential. Collaboration in this field may involve joint research initiatives, product development, and the creation of specialized scaffolds for tissue regeneration.

Nutraceuticals and Supplements:
Jellatech might explore partnerships with companies in the nutraceutical and dietary supplement industry to create collagen supplements that promote joint health, skin elasticity, and overall well-being. These collaborations could involve co-branding, distribution agreements, or joint marketing efforts.

Academic and research collaborations:
Jellatech may partner with academic institutions and research organizations to advance the scientific understanding of collagen and explore new applications for this versatile protein. Collaborations in research can lead to breakthroughs in collagen-related technologies and applications.

With the recent partnership with CULT Food Science for collagen-enhanced pet foods, can you talk about the benefit of using functional animal-free collagen in pet foods?
Just as you relish the benefits of different supplements in your diet and skin care, these can also be beneficial for your furry friend. Adding collagen to your dog’s diet can promote healthy bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, fur, and nail growth for your pet.

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