Plant collagen is commonly used in the cosmetic industry. As skin ages, the natural collagen begins to dissipate. Using plant-derived collagen can help restore skin's elasticity and youthfulness. It can also stimulate the body's natural collagen. Collagen can also be extracted from animals and cadavers, but it is now a concern that diseases and illness can derive from these sources. Also, many people can have allergic reactions to the collagen taken from cows or pigs.
Extraction of Plant Collagen
The collagen is extracted from the plant source. Tobacco leaves, for example, are one plant used in collagen production. They are harvested for collagen every five to six weeks . The plants are then genetically altered to produce human-like collagen. In the past, it was only possible to insert one human gene into the plant's collagen. Now, though, it is possible to insert five genes.
Hydrolysis of Proteins
The plant-derived collagen is hydrolyzed wheat protein. The wheat proteins can be made from flour proteins or gluten. Hydrolysis is necessary because the collagen sources are made of both soluble and insoluble materials. Hydrolysis splits water molecules into hydrogen and hydroxide ions, allowing for the genetic altering of proteins in the collagen.
The collagen must then be kept in cold temperatures to keep it from turning into a gelatin. This also ensures it will retain its true molecular form. Plant collagen has less temperature stability than collagen produced from mammals, so it is even more important that it be stored properly. Even after the collagen has been readied for commercial use, proper storage is still necessary.