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Collagen from fish? Yes, it is possible – interview with Dr. Olga Bukovskaya and Julia Blok

Collagen from fish? Yes, it is possible – interview with Dr. Olga Bukovskaya and Julia Blokhina

Publish date: 2014-09-01

So far cattle, pig and chicken were the main sources of collagen. Because of common bovine spongiform encefalopathy (BSE) and the high production costs, the researchers were looking for other sources. Collagen is widely used in cell culture, as certain cells are adhesion-dependant (for example human fibroblasts) and require an additional attachment factor, such as extracellular matrix proteins for normal growth and proliferation.

Tags: Biotechnnology , collagen type I , collagen , fish , fish , cell culture , EANOVA-COLL

Why did you choose fish to obtain proteins from and what kind of fish do you use?
The experience of the key staff member of our company covers quite a wide field of biochemistry. One of the directions of their work was to obtain value-added compounds from the by-products of freshwater fish processing, including collagen. The results led us to the decision to fully explore the possibility of obtaining unhydrolysed collagen from the tissues of freshwater fish. The main objectives we have had were to reach high quality, ecological safety and cost-effectiveness. Another argument for the development of such a product was that the resulting protein would be by default free of such common mammalian pathogens as BSE or FMD.
Presently, collagens extracted from fish are rather unpopular, because most of them possess a low thermal stability (making them unsuitable for most cell culture applications) and the influx of gelatine, marketed as “fish collagen”.
However, gels and coatings prepared from our collagens, which we manufacture from freshwater fish reared in warm water, possess the same stability as mammalian (e.g. bovine, rat, porcine, etc.) during incubation at 37 ºC. Thus researchers can use them for coating cell culture surfaces, to prepare collagen scaffolds and matrices, etc.

For whom are your products dedicated?
Our primary focus was to offer a new solution for researchers in the field of traditional 2D and the more recently developed 3D cell culture. Our collagens are obtained from different tissues, thus providing an array of preparations differing in such parameters as viscosity and fibril form and size. Gels and coatings prepared from our collagen solutions are colourless and highly transparent, thus being optimal for microscopic examination and photography. Also, the EANOVA-COLL® collagens proved themselves to be very promising for development of new biomaterials, thus being of interest for researchers and manufacturers in the biomedicine sector.

What are the possible uses of the collagen type I?
Collagen type I is regarded as one of the most useful biomaterials. It is widely used for cell culture, biomedical, pharmaceutical and toxicological applications owing to its cell attachment capabilities, excellent biocompatibility, biodegradability and weak antigenicity.
The main applications of collagen are coatings and hydrogels for cell culture systems, drug delivery systems, sponges for burn/wound care, as controlling material for transdermal delivery, nanoparticles for gene-delivery. It is also used in tissue engineering, including skin and bone substitutes, artificial blood vessels and valves, nerve conduits and joint implants.
Advantages of collagen materials are:
·         Non-antigenic, non-toxic and biocompatible;
·         Bioreabsorbable and biodegradable, biodegradability can be regulated by cross-linking;
·         Synergic with bioactive components;
·         Biological plastic due to high tensile strength;
·         Haemostatic — promotes blood coagulation;
·         Formulated in a number of different forms;
·         Compatible with synthetic polymers.

What are the safety standards for these products?
We only use raw material from aquaculture facilities with high quality standards. Our quality management system guarantees compliance to all relevant standards throughout the manufacturing process. All operations are carried out in an aseptic environment and the sterility of the final product is ensured by ultrafiltration.
Our quality management system covers 15 parameters and includes multiple critical control points at each stage of the production. In contrast to collagens of mammalian origin, the sterile collagen solutions offered by EANOVA-COLL cannot be carriers of such pathogens as BSE or FMD.

Is it a cheaper method in comparison with other ways of obtaining the collagen?
As the manufacturing technologies of the separate enterprises may differ quite a bit, we cannot give a direct method-cost comparison with other collagen manufacturers. However, due to our technology, we are able to supply a high-quality product at unparalleled, most affordable prices.

Thank You for Your time and for the interview.

Dr. Olga Bukovskaya, Director
Possesses a PhD degree in animal physiology, followed by a Royal Society Postdoctoral fellowship. More than 30 years of experience in R+D work. Participated as a group leader in several EU-funded research projects. Author of more than 50 scientific publications. Main developer of the technology of manufacturing collagens from freshwater fish tissues and is involved in the manufacturing and further development of related products.

Julia Blokhina, MSc, Senior Researcher
Participates in research projects for more than 8 years, initially as a technical assistant, later becoming a researcher. As a research group member participated in several EU-funded research projects. Participated in the development of the technology of manufacturing collagens from freshwater fish tissues and is involved in the manufacturing and further development of related products.

EANOVA-COLL Kft. is a private research and development company created in 2004 to perform own research and provide commercial services in fields of applied biochemistry, animal physiology, hazard and risk assessment, estimation of environmental impact of production, examination and optimisation of production technologies, by-product valorisation, and food safety. The company’s key staff members are experienced in international collaborative research work.
In 2012, the company has launched the production of highly-purified, sterile collagen preparations, extracted from freshwater fish tissues. These are distributed under the trademark of the company. The SME nature of the company and the technical expertise of the staff (over 10 years of research on fish collagens) contributed to the establishment of a highly cost-effective production system.

All pictures presented in the article are provided from EANOVA-COLL.

Hanna Banasiak


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