Introduction to Recombinant Collagen
What Recombinant Collagen Is
In the cosmetics industry, innovation is often driven by breakthroughs in ingredients. Historically, many brands have achieved significant success by harnessing the potential of exclusive ingredients. Examples include Pro-Xylane for L'Oréal, nicotinamide for Olay, etc. Currently, recombinant collagen is the rising star in the cosmetics industry. Collagen widely exists in tissues such as skin, bones, and muscles. Its supportive, reparative, and protective properties make it a vital substance in maintaining skin elasticity and moisture. As Dr. J. Brandt—the father of collagen, stated, the skin aging process is the process of collagen breakdown and loss. Therefore, how to supplement the continuous loss of collagen has long been a focus of dermatological research.
Collagen products available in the market can be categorized into animal-derived collagen and recombinant collagen based on extraction methods. Animal-derived collagen is extracted from animal tissues, while recombinant collagen is produced through genetic engineering techniques. The latter option offers several advantages, including superior performance, greater flexibility, and enhanced safety. Additionally, recombinant collagen has a higher denaturation temperature, exceeding 72°C, compared to animal-derived collagen which typically denatures at around 40°C. This higher denaturation temperature simplifies transportation and storage. While animal-derived collagen currently holds the majority of the market share, recombinant collagen is rapidly gaining ground due to the significant advancements in synthetic biology in recent years.
Suitable for low-cost and large-scale industrial production
Higher safety and stability;
Risk of pathogenic residue;
There are doubts about the biological activity of recombinant collagen
Differences between Animal-derived collagen and recombinant collagen
Categories of Recombinant Collagen
According to the Guidelines for Naming Recombinant Collagen Biomaterials, recombinant collagen can be categorized into three groups: recombinant human collagen, recombinant humanized collagen, and recombinant collagen. Recombinant human collagen exhibits a structure identical to that of human collagen. But there are currently no recombinant human collagen products available in the market. Recombinant humanized collagen features amino acid sequences that match specific functional regions of human collagen, resulting in exceptional biocompatibility. In contrast, recombinant collagen has a relatively low degree of homology to human collagen.
Recombinant Human Collagen
Characterized by its encoding of the full-length amino acid sequence of a specific human collagen type and its possession of stable triple-helix structures.
Recombinant humanized Collagen
Characterized by its encoding of the full-length or partial amino acid sequence of a specific human collagen type,or by the combinations of functional segments of human collagen.
Derived from genes that have been intentionally designed and modified to encode specific amino acid sequences or segments, or segment combinations.These modified-gene-encoded sequences or amino acid sequences exhibit a low degree of homology with those in human collagen.
Different categories of recombinant collagen
Recombinant Collagen Market and Applications
Market Size of Recombinant Collagen
As recombinant collagen production and commercialization receive increasing attention, the prospect is promising. According to Frost & Sullivan, the market size of recombinant collagen has witnessed substantial growth, surging from 1.5 billion yuan in 2017 to 10.8 billion yuan in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63.8%. It is expected to reach 108.3 billion yuan in 2027, with a CAGR of 42.4% from 2022 to 2027. Notably, the penetration rate of recombinant collagen products in the entire collagen market has increased from 15.5% in 2017 to 37.6% in 2021, and is expected to further increase to 62.3% in 2027.
Applications of Recombinant Collagen
The applications of recombinant collagen span across various fields, covering professional skincare (including functional skincare and medical dressing), non-surgical medical aesthetics, biomedical materials, health supplements, etc. Among these, functional skincare and medical dressing stand out as the primary application areas. In 2021, functional skincare and medical dressing accounted for 42.6% and 44.4% in all types of applications of recombinant collagen.
Delving into the field of functional skincare, China saw its market reach 30.8 billion yuan in 2021, with a CAGR of 23.4% from 2017 to 2021. The market is expected to reach 211.8 billion yuan by 2027, with a CAGR of 38.8% from 2022 to 2027. Within this market, recombinant collagen based functional skincare products had a scale of 4.6 billion yuan in 2021, with a CAGR of 54.9% over the same period. This segment is projected to surge to 64.5 billion yuan by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 55.0% from 2022 to 2027. The market penetration rate of recombinant collagen based functional skincare products is anticipated to rise from 14.9% in 2021 to 30.5% in 2027.
In the medical dressing field, the market hit 25.9 billion yuan in 2021 with a CAGR of 40.2% from 2017 to 2021, representing a rapid growth trend. The market is expected to expand to 97.9 billion yuan by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 23.1% from 2022 to 2027. Within the market, recombinant collagen based medical dressings accounted for 4.8 billion yuan, with a penetration rate of 18.5% in 2021, and a CAGR of 86.1% from 2017 to 2021. From 2022 to 2027, this segment is expected to continue growing at a CAGR of 28.8%, and leading to an improved penetration rate of 26.0% in 2027.
Currently, China is at the forefront of research, manufacturing, and industrialization of recombinant collagen worldwide. As the pioneer in the industry, Giant Biogene is one of the largest recombinant collagen manufacturers worldwide with extensive libraries of recombinant collagen. Additionally, it is world's first enterprise to achieve mass production of recombinant collagen skincare products. After Giant Biogene made its debut on the HKEX in November 2022, it has earned the title of China’s first Recombinant Collagen stock. Following the footsteps of Giant Biogene, enterprises such as Jinbo Biopharmaceutical and Trautec Medical Technology have entered the market and built their early-mover advantages. Jinbo has developed a new recombinant Type III humanized collagen ingredient—MicoreCol.III, with a small molecular weight of only 3 kDa, which can penetrate the skin at a rate of 33% in 4 hours and up to 86% in 12 hours. Moreover, Jinbo's exclusive innovation—Recombinant Type III Humanized Collagen Freeze-Dried Fiber, is the first recombinant collagen product with class III medical device certification in China approved for injectable cosmetic treatment. Noteworthy, Jinbo also went public in July 2023. Trautec is the only biotechnology enterprise that has successfully realized the industrial production of recombinant type XVII humanized collagen which has obtained the INCI name. Furthermore, Trautec has secured investment from Shiseido and L Catterton—the LVMH-backed private equity firm, facilitating its technological innovation and product research and development.
As the recombinant collagen field continues to gain momentum, an increasing number of enterprises, such as Bloomage Biotech, Marubi, Wuzhong Pharmaceutical, and others, have rapidly entered the sector. They have done so through self-research projects, purchase of patented technologies, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
Main layout in recombinant collagen
Particular technological advantage
Functional skincare, medical dressing
Giant Biogene is the pioneering player in the industry;
One of the world's largest producers of recombinant collagen with the most varieties of recombinant collagen;
World's first enterprise to achieve mass production of recombinant collagen skincare products.
Medical dressing, injectable cosmetic treatment
Jinbo is first and only recombinant collagen enterprise that has achieved the class III medical device certification for its injectable cosmetic treatment products;
Jinbo has developed a new recombinant collagen ingredient—MicoreCol.III, with a small molecular weight of only 3 kDa;
Trautec Medical Technology
Trautec's recombinant Type XVII collagen ingredient has obtained the INCI name.
Functional skincare, medical dressing
Jland Biotech has successfully completed trial production on its production line with a capacity of 20 tons of pure recombinant collagen.
Raw material, Functional food
Bloomage Biotech is the global leader in hyaluronic acid raw materials, and has built an integrated industrial chain.
Wuzhong has acquired the global exclusive intellectual property rights for the biosynthesis technology of recombinant type III human collagen, which features triple helix and trimeric structures.
Major players in China's recombinant collagen industry
When examining the competitive landscape in the recombinant collagen cosmetics sector, it's apparent that both upstream raw material suppliers and downstream beauty companies are strategically investing in this field by introducing their own product lines. Recombinant collagen based skincare products primarily focus on barrier repair and anti-aging effects due to recombinant collagen's biological properties, including providing structural support, promoting hemostasis and cell adhesion, stimulating cell regeneration and proliferation, repairing damaged skin barriers, and supplying nutrition for aging and problematic skin.
Examples include the popular brand Confime and Collgene under Giant Biogene, as well as new recombinant collagen products launched by leading Chinese functional skincare brands such as Marubi and Winona. Particularly, Confime has established a strong presence in the recombinant collagen based skincare category. According to Giant Biogene interim financial report of 2023, Confime's revenue was 1.23 billion yuan in H1 2023, with a YoY increase of 101%, accounting for 76.4% of Giant Biogene's total revenue.
Recombinant collagen dressing
Skin barrier repairing, hydrating
Humanized recombinant collagen lift-active tightening mask
Anti-aging, tightening, hydrating
Recombinant type III humanized collagen freeze-dried fiber
Anti-aging, anti-wrinkling, hydrating
Recombinant humanized collagen dressing
Skin barrier repairing, moisturizing
Recombinant collagen facial essence
Revitalizing, smoothing, moisturizing
Recombinant collagen firming elastic cream
Recombinant collagen skin repair dressing
Skin barrier repairing
Marubi (part of products)
Recombinant collagen BFS-packaged essence
Eye skin anti-aging, anti-wrinkling
WINONA (part of products)
Recombinant collagen dressing
Skin barrier repairing, hydrating
Major Chinese brands in the recombinant collagen cosmetics sector
In addition to its primary applications in functional skincare and medical dressings, recombinant collagen’s applications in the following areas are also noteworthy:
Non-surgical Medical Aesthetics
Non-surgical medical aesthetics, specifically injectable cosmetic treatments, have become increasingly popular as a means to enhance one's appearance. Collagen, compared to other ingredients, offers naturalness, strong adhesion, and a whitening effect, making it a highly suitable bioactive ingredient for injectable cosmetic treatments. However, in the past, the high cost and safety concerns associated with collagen injection products limited their use in injectable cosmetic treatments. A significant turning point occurred in 2021 when Jinbo Biopharmaceutical developed the recombinant type III humanized collagen freeze-dried fiber under the brand WYE-MOR. In 2022, this product generated an impressive revenue of 113.5 million yuan, representing a remarkable YoY growth of 310% and accounting for 29.06% of the company's total revenue. Additionally, it's noteworthy that in August 2023, Jinbo’s second injectable recombinant collagen product was approved for market access. With continuous technological advancements, recombinant collagen will be applied to more scenarios in injectable cosmetic treatments.
As consumers' personal care needs become increasingly refined, scalp health issues are garnering more attention than ever before. Consequently, high-efficacy ingredients have also become the focus of scalp care products. Currently, Trautec has demonstrated the effectiveness of recombinant XVII collagen in repairing skin tissue and promoting hair growth through in vitro cell and animal experiments. Additionally, Jland Biotech has also launched a new material—Anti-Hair Loss and Scalp Nourishing Transdermal Recombinant Collagen, which claims to effectively permeate the basal layer of the scalp, providing anti-hair loss, hair care, and scalp anti-aging effects.
As the beauty economy evolves, the concept of "internal and external beauty" has gained popularity, leading to a growing demand for oral beauty supplements. Collagen is a trendy choice among consumers who seek to combat aging through dietary supplementation. Today, China's oral beauty market has evolved from the collagen era 1.0 to the collagen peptide era 2.0, where products are featured with better efficacy due to higher absorption rates. With the advancement of recombinant collagen technology, there is substantial market potential for collagen supplements with even higher absorption rates and enhanced solubility.
To guide the healthy, standardized, and regulated development of recombinant collagen industry, the Chinese government has enacted a series of industry standards and policies that specify naming conventions, product supervision, and quality control requirements for recombinant collagen biomaterials. In March 2021, National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) released the Guidelines for Naming Recombinant Collagen Biomaterials, establishing standardized nomenclature for recombinant collagen biomaterials. Subsequently, in April of the same year, the Principles for Classifying Recombinant Collagen Medical Products was released to strengthen the supervision and management of recombinant collagen medical products. In January 2022, the NMPA released the Recombinant Collagen Industry Standard (YY/T 1849-2022), which officially came into effect in August 2022. This standard, jointly drafted by multiple professional research institutions and industry-leading players, stipulates requirements for the industry covering eight aspects including definition, quality control, testing methods, stability, biological evaluation, packaging, transportation, and storage. Furthermore, the Recombinant Humanized Collagen Industry Standard was released in January 2023 and enforced in July 2023, with the aim of promoting the orderly development of recombinant humanized collagen. All in all, these regulatory policies are expected to facilitate the healthy development of the recombinant collagen industry.
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