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In The News: protein identification tech, SAFER chemical hazard assessment, skin microbiome science

GenScript Biotech and Allozymes team up on new molecule discovery process to help beauty makers, ChemFORWARD verifies 40+ Inolex ingredients, Beiersdorf buys a majority stake in S-Biomedic, and Avon Products vows to appeal Talc Verdict.

fallen snow in the foreground, frost covered tall grasses and a lone deciduous tree beyond that, all against a pale blue sky
Photo by Sam Farallon on Unsplash

🔬💋Molecule Discovery Platform

Cosmetic ingredient makers and other synthetic biology ventures have a new resource for fast-paced enzyme and protein research. This month GenScript Biotech (New Jersey, US) and Allozymes (Singapore) announced a partnership creating “a one-stop solution that includes mutant libraries construction, screening, and target protein identification.”

“Our relationship with Allozymes spans several years, and we are glad to expand this relationship to be an exclusive partner that provides researchers with a full suite of services, from discovery to expression of target molecules,” Dawn Lee, SEA Sales Director for GenScript Asia Pacific, tells the press.

And Allozyme CEO Peyman Salehian highlights that the new partnership is “Leveraging our ultra-high-throughput platform, combined with GenScript's proprietary technologies for gene synthesis, mutant library, protein expression and antibody production, …[thereby] building the next-generation protein engineering and synbio platform in the heart of Asia.”

“This partnership,” he continues, “allows us to have a fast-track horizontal move into different sectors, focusing on unlocking opportunities and delivering a one-stop platform for customers to receive screened and targeted proteins for their needs.”

According to this month’s press release, the molecule discovery services are available globally and interested customers can contact either company for a consultation.

🌱🧪💋Out of Harm’s Way

In March 2022, the chemical science non-profit ChemFORWARD launched a program called SAFER, developed to vet the safety of trade-named cosmetics and personal care ingredients. The program also includes partnerships with Novi Connect, ChemSec Marketplace, and Covalo (ingredient discovery, formulation development platforms) where verified SAFER materials can be marketed as such under their trade name. The program essentially creates a global library of chemical hazard assessments (CHAs).

“ChemFORWARD’s assessment by trade name is a more accurate representation of an ingredient’s safety profile over INCI or chemical name because it considers additives, impurities, and residuals that are specific to sourcing, extraction methods, and manufacturing processes. It really is the future in transparency and ensuring safer chemistry,” notes Lisa Gandolfi, PhD, Vice President of Marketing at Inolex (a beauty ingredient supplier that, as you’ll read below, has first-hand experience with the SAFER program). SAFER also purports to be swifter, more affordable, and more consistent than private CHA rating providers.

This month, ChemFORWARD verified 40+ Inolex ingredients as SAFER—a significant number, considering that the program has verified only 70 ingredients total since launch. “Inolex is a true leader among ingredient suppliers with a public commitment to vet its products thoroughly against a global standard of safety and transparency,” believes Stacy Glass, Executive Director of ChemFORWARD, who shared comments as part of an Inolex media release circulated last week. “They are,” she says, “an important partner in our mission to ensure that all chemicals entering commerce are well characterized and support safe and sustainable design.”

This past October Inolex unveiled a new corporate identity; and the company’s updated boilerplate notes: “we design emerging technologies that ensure the safe and optimum performance of leading brands in more than 85 countries.” And this latest news seems to demonstrate the ingredient maker’s emphasis on safety.

💰🔬💋Purchasing Probiotic Personal Care

The Belgium-based startup and the German multinational personal care company have been working together since 2018, when Beiersdorf (as part of its venture capital activities) first invested in the startup. The two companies have been collaborating on skin microbiome research ever since. Going forward, S-Biomedic will be “managed as a standalone entity under Beiersdorf’s existing microbiome program and will complement the company’s own research activities in this field,” according to last week’s press release on the acquisition.

Veronika Oudova and Bernhard Paetzold founded S-Biomedic in 2014 and subsequently “S-Biomedic has developed the understanding of thousands of C. acnes strains…fully sequencing many of them and identifying their specific beneficial effects on key skin functions,” as Pascal Yvon, SVP of Commercial Strategy and Sales, told me earlier this year for a EuroCosmetics magazine article on Advances in Microbiome Beauty Science.

“Our vision since…we started S-Biomedic has been to build and promote skin microbiome technologies and make them to the new frontier in skin health,” says Veronika Oudova, CEO of S-Biomedic, in her remarks to the press this month. “I am very excited that together with the team we have achieved a very important milestone on that journey. By joining Beiersdorf our novel approach has its path to consumers all over the world,” she says.

Dr. Gitta Neufang, SVP of Research and Development at Beiersdorf notes that, “The acquisition of S-Biomedic is an ideal strategic fit to drive our innovation power even further in line with our C.A.R.E.+ strategy. Together with the pioneers of S-Biomedic we are taking skin care to the next level and will foster the development of solutions for unmet consumer needs.” Financial terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed.

⚖Talc Turmoil

On Friday, December 16, “jurors placed 90% of the blame for Ms. Chapman's cancer on Avon Products, Inc. ” 76 year old Rita-Ann Chapman has mesothelioma. According to the case she and her husband brought, Avon products containing asbestos caused that cancer.

Avon Products is owned, since 2020, by Natura. And, in an email statement shared with Jef Feeley of, the company affirmed plans to revisit the issue in court: “We are disappointed by this verdict and will vigorously pursue all available avenues to appeal. Avon is confident that it has strong grounds for appeal and will continue to defend its position.”

Since she was 8 years old, Chapman apparently used Avon products formulated with talc (a mineral that is naturally formed in close proximity with the carcinogenic mineral asbestos).

This exposure, along with asbestos exposure from laundering her husband’s work clothes, allegedly led to her terminal cancer. Upon acquiring Avon Products, Natura stopped selling products formulated with talc in the US.

Of particular note in this case is that “Avon chose to sell four talc products that the company found had high levels of asbestos for 103 days to exhaust its stocks,” according to a press release circulated by the law offices of Dean Omar Branham Shirley.


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