4th GoJelly Newsletter, 31. 3. 2020
Can jellyfish help get rid of wrinkles?
Author: Philipp Süßle (CRM, Germany)
To start with a general question: Why are we interested in jellyfish? About 2% of a jellyfish consist of protein, and half of this is collagen. Being a producer of natural cosmetics, this marine source is of special interest for us, as it poses fewer risks of diseases, as compared to vertebrate-originated collagen. Furthermore, the collagen is less differentiated and therefore suitable for several different functions within different cells.
So what’s new? After investigating several processing methods and protocols, we seem to have found one, working for the gross of jellyfish samples. Various steps, including homogenization, precipitation and centrifugation make up for a good laboratory routine and show viable opportunities for scale up. Additionally, different analytical methods (such as gel electrophoresis) have shown that an enzymatic digestion of jellyfish might not be entirely necessary. A pure salt precipitation might work as well in order to extract collagen and to induce beneficial effects in skin care. Nevertheless, we will examine and develop the enzymatic processing further, as the remarkable water-uptake capacities of these products justify the higher production effort. High water binding capabilities will translate to good outcomes concerning skin-assisting properties. Several different species have been evaluated and all showed
collagen content to some extent: Rhopilema esculenta, Rhopilema nomadica, Rhizostoma pulmo, Periphylla periphylla, Mnemiopsis leidyi and Aurelia aurita.
Nonetheless, besides high collagen content, a predominant aspect for choosing the species is the sustainability and reliability of the source. Concerned about our environmental footprint, we will take aspects of overfishing and transport constrains into consideration. This means that the promising species as far as the collagen content and quality is concerned (such as Rhopilema nomadica from the eastern Mediterranean) will not be considered for development finalization due to expensive transport. We will thus focus on jellyfish from nearby areas, such as Periphylla periphylla from Norway, which might be a feasible source, as transport is less of a problem and this jellyfish species is found there in great, sometimes even nuisance, abundances.
The current situation of the corona-virus outbreak has quite recently lead to restrictions in all of our private and corporate routines. Likewise, working at Coastal Research & Management GbR is impaired for an indefinite period. Nevertheless, several extraction of collagen from different jellyfish have taken place in the past few weeks and the necessity of working from home leaves us with some time to revise attained data.
As stated before, besides the high water-uptake capabilities of our extracted samples, the regional availability of jellyfish is our predominant concern. Therefore, our recent efforts were mainly concentrated on species Rhizostoma pulmo and Periphylla periphylla, which we received from our project partners in Slovenia and Norway. Furthermore, we are happy to say, that the enzymatic processing will be conducted by SINTEF SeaLab and the examination and development will be done in close collaboration. The remarkable water-uptake capacities of these products justify the higher production effort. Besides that, we have optimized our existing extraction techniques.
The Figure below shows the percentage of salt-free and dry yield from the initial wet sample weight. The precipitation from R. pulmo results in higher yields of protein-fractions. In both cases it exceeds the values of P. periphylla three to four times. However, the rather large standard deviations, especially for precipitation of R. pulmo, despite doing multiple replicates, could not be eliminated. This is undesirable, as it might render the future economic calculations inaccurate. , The fluctuating water-content within the raw materials is most likely the reason for this, which is partly natural but possibly also due to different sampling techniques of raw material. We hope this will be solved with further research within the project, once we will have a permanent jellyfish supplier.
Having used different precipitation agents, we could see that using agent A continuously resulted in lower yields, making up for only 30 – 40% of the amount attained by agent B. On the one hand, this can be ascribed to the fact, that different agents have higher capabilities of disrupting the hydration of proteins and therefore cause larger precipitation and on the other hand, precipitated material might contain traces of the used agents, resulting in different values, since the molar masses of the used agents differ quite substantially. This is still a matter of investigation, however, it is safe to say, that little salt residues are not avoidable and are not disturbing in the final product.
The secret recipe has not been found yet, but we feel we are close to it. The scale up is in progress, qualified species have been identified and a reliable source is being discussed. We will report about more formulations of creams and conducting consumer trails soon.
Why is communication in GoJelly important?
Ana Rotter (NIB, Slovenia, WP9 leader)
The scientific community is becoming aware of the importance of the communication and outreach strategies. Why do we communicate? An obvious answer would be – »because they told us so« (they: typically the financers). This pragmatic approach is becoming old fashioned as we have comed to the realization that one of the prerequisites for innovative society is to establish efficient lines of communication. This is the ambition we set up at the beginning of the GoJelly project: to use the available communication channels to
1) spread the word about GoJelly (our tasks, objectives, but also team members and joint scientific outputs);
2) become a reference point for news concerning microplastic pollution and interesting facts about jellyfish from the general community (not promoting our project outputs) and
3) possibly obtain feedback from the general community.
As the project is very ambitious; the use of such a simple and ubiquitous organism as jellyfish to combat one of the (or possibly the) biggest environmental threats in the history is an overall crazy idea! We have chosen a wide approach as at the beginning of the project we didn’t have any idea on what the outreach potential of such a project might be. We decided to go big, promising newsletters, press releases, website, social media (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook). And then see how successful our efforts will be.
And what a surprise we have had, right from the beginning of the project! The phones kept ringing from the moment we released our first press release! Newspapers, radio stations, TV stations; from North to South, all partners were engaged in communication with the media, for many it was their first encounter with journalists! Even more surprising was the fact, that suddenly we were called from other countries as well, countries that were not in our consortium: Croatia, Canada, USA. Soon, multinationals called: Al Jazeera, Euronews! We have to say, the interest from the media caught us off the guard. But we are learning, improving and are happy and proud that our project started a community; of innovators, of general public that cares, that is interested in solutions!
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774499