MyBlueCity is going digital | Interview #8 | Jellagen
Jellagen – Collagen alternatives from…jellyfish!
Ana Ferreira (BioMarine Community Manager)
During a surf day off the East coast of Scotland, Andrew Mearns Spragg, now Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Jellagen, was hit by an interesting business idea while he swam through a bloom of jellyfishes. With a background in marine biotechnology and passionate about sustainability, he saw beyond a plague of floating jellyfish and began to build Jellagen – a company in the UK that is revolutionizing regenerative medicine by providing sustainable next generation collagen alternatives.
We talked to Andrew and got to know all about Jellagen!
Born from a scientific background and a solid business experience
With a PhD in Marine Microbiology/Biotechnolgy -, Andrew Mearns Spragg, began exploring his entrepreneurial skills motivated by an enterprise fellowship award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) back in 2000. The RSE Enterprise Fellowships provide scientists with the opportunity to launch their entrepreneurial ideas and to become more business oriented. After this experience, and leading his first company developing new products from marine micro-organisms for >10 years, Andrew saw a unique business opportunity in…jellyfish! Andrew explains “I have always been passionate about the sustainable use of marine resources, and started my second business Jellagen to develop the exciting potential of collagen from jellyfish, which was a very new topic! Also, it was very clear to me that regenerative medicine was growing, as well as the need for safer and sustainable alternative biomaterials that could, at the same time, show improved and safer performance!”.
From jellyfish to a growing business
After exploring the potential of jellyfish collagen and the products they could develop, Andrew assembled the team and the business-case that quickly turned into a very simple, but effective, business model – Jellagen was born in 2014 to provide the market with a next generation collagen for both medical and research use. Initial products are targeting the 2D and 3D cell culture reagent markets (called scaffolds) for the culturing of stem cells and later to apply this collagen in medical devices for wound management and regenerative medicine. This means that the collagen from the jellyfish, a plague during the bloom season, was extracted and transformed into a matrix to culture cells and study their growth in a laboratory environment. As Andrew said, “we turned an unused resource into a valuable product!”.
The big advantages of using jellyfish collagen
As Andrew quickly explained, there are a lot of advantages: “Animal collagen for these matrixes usually come from bovine, porcine or equine sources, which brings a great deal of risks related to disease transmission such as BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), and the risk of disease transfer”. Also, “as jellyfish-derived collagen is the evolutionary source of mammalian collagen, it holds great biocompatibility (increased acceptance from the cultured cells)”. Other important advantages reside in the “comparable cost to the alternatives in the market, and the fact that jellyfish collagen maintains batch-to-batch consistency, which is essential in research studies”.
For more information on this you can have a look at their recently published White Paper.
The existing and soon-to-be-launched products
The existing products include a solution used to self-coat culture ware as 2D scaffolds that can be directly used for cell cultures to grow. But there are new products, as Andrew explained “We are about to launch our 3D cell culture scaffolds. A 3D cell culture is an artificially created environment in which biological cells are permitted to grow or interact with their surroundings in all three dimensions. Unlike 2D environments (e.g. plastic surface), 3D cell culture allows cells in vitro to grow in all directions, similar to how they would behave in a living tissue in vivo”. Finally, they are studying the potential use of other marine resources, but that is still a secret!
Introducing Jellagen’s new Free Trial Programme
Jellagen is currently available to accept applications for their Free Trial Programme that, as Andrew explains, “is providing 96 well collagen coated plates for scientists to test the product in their own lab”. He adds that “scientists need empirical evidence and for that, we want them to try our products to compare their efficacy”. Also, “it’s important to integrate existing research studies so the products are known, and we can get important feedbacks to make improvements”. It is a win-win situation!
To know more about their Trial programme and apply you can access the form HERE.
The ambition for 2019/2020
For the years to come, and for Andrew, the goals are pretty straightforward: “Jellyfish collagen is not a revolution but rather an elegant evolution in collagen. Our focus is to get our product out there and drive sales, with a great focus in the European and American market”. And we wish them best of luck!
Want to know more info about Jellagen?
Click HERE or contact the team through the BioMarine Community!
Follow Jellagen on social media