Is cell programming the future of beauty manufacturing?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

© Pixtum / Getty Images
© Pixtum / Getty Images

Related tags: cell programming, Givaudan

The biological advancement is now coming to the forefront of beauty, bringing innovations and opportunities through its ability to program code to grow new kinds of beauty ingredients.

“One of the most incredible things about biology is that it runs on a sort of code,” ​said Jasmina Aganovic, Entrepreneur in Residence at Ginkgo Bioworks. “DNA defines what enzymes, proteins, and molecules are made inside of a cell, and that DNA code can be programmed to grow new kinds of proteins and molecules that can be used in beauty.”

Industry partnership

Biotechnology company and builder of the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, Ginkgo Bioworks, teamed up with beauty and fragrance name, Givaudan, to create new and better products.

The duo signed a multi-program collaboration that will see Givaudan, which recently announced a business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition, utilize Ginkgo’s expertise in enabling bio-based product development. Together, the companies will use the pioneering application of cell programming to produce innovative and sustainable beauty ingredients through fermentation.

Consciousness creates curiosity in cell programming

Cell programming in beauty is growing in interest and uptake by brands and manufacturers. Sustainability in beauty is propelling its momentum. “The adoption of synthetic biology in beauty is being driven by conscious consumers who want naturally derived products that are better for their health and the planet,” ​said Aganovic.

“As brands look to reduce their environmental footprint, synthetic biology offers a path inspired by nature to both existing and new compounds,” ​she added.

Cell programming needs to satisfy the needs of brands, such as Givaudan, and the demands of consumers to succeed and capture the attention of the industry. Balancing these needs is vital to encourage and promote the uptake of cell programming in mainstream beauty product manufacturing.

“Consumers want more sustainable, natural options and brands want to be responsible stewards of the environment and lower their environmental footprint,”​ states Aganovic.

Using Ginkgo’s comprehensive platform, Givaudan will focus on accelerating product development and enhancing its ingredient portfolio. With sustainable innovation a key priority, Givaudan strives to create environmentally-conscious products, including those only available in minute quantities to prevent wastage.

Through its manufacturing process, Ginkgo Bioworks can bring powerful naturally occurring phenomena like fermentation into the 21st century via data science, artificial intelligence, and high throughput screening. 

Documenting and engineering cells for beauty

Sharing the associated challenges with the implementation and usage of cell programming, Aganovic emphasized: “Engineering living cells is hard!​”

“Evolution has spent four billion years programming DNA to perform all of the functions plants and animals perform, so we still have a lot to learn,”​ she said. To support its plans and respond through understanding, Ginkgo is building the world’s largest biological portfolio, or Codebase, to learn from each of its projects and publicly available data. The biological portfolio will enable Ginkgo to constantly improve its accuracy and expand its creativity.

Improving functionality, application and progression of beauty

Detailing the most exciting opportunities of using cell programming in mainstream beauty development, Aganovic said: “Biology can self-replicate, heal and repair.” ​The properties of programming can open up previously inaccessible functionality and brand stories.

“Additionally, biotechnology accelerates our transition from unsustainable industrial chemistry to a more sustainable and regenerative era that improves the health and wellbeing of people across the globe,” ​said Aganovic.

“Givaudan has long prided itself on being a leader in innovation,” ​added Allison Haitz, Biotechnology Program Director at Givaudan. “This collaboration with Ginkgo Bioworks is the latest example of our commitment to offering the highest quality, natural products to our customers around the world.”​.

The partnership between Ginkgo and Givaudan spans multiple programs, which explore cell programming possibilities in beauty. Through collaborating, the duo may also add more in the future to further develop the innovative biological application.

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