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24th Oct 2021

Stakeholder

Icelandic green biotechnology

  • Bioeffect's bioengineered barley is grown in a high-tech greenhouse, located in the middle of the Icelandic lava fields. It has a negative CO2 footprint and exclusively uses natural geothermal energy and pure subterranean glacial water. (Photo: Benjamin Hardman / ORF Genetics)

ORF Genetics was founded in 2001 by two molecular geneticists and one physiologist who spent over 10 years developing a method for producing biorisk-free recombinant proteins in barley plants for use in medical research, stem cell technology and skincare.

In our mind, barley possesses unique characteristics, qualities that make it perfectly suited to our biotechnology needs.

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  • The original EGF Serum contains only 7 ingredients, which is a rarity in the skincare industry. (Photo: Bioeffect)

First and foremost is the fact that barley is a closed biological system: it is self-pollinating, meaning its pollen will not pollinate flowers on a different plant.

Not only is interspecies cross-pollination impossible, but the barley plant will not even pollinate another, identical barley plant growing mere feet away.

This is extremely important in terms of genetic isolation and purity, but it is also vital for contained, responsible production of human proteins, or molecular farming.

This doesn't make barley unique: there are many other plants that are self-pollinating, including certain kinds of orchids, peas, and sunflowers.

However, barley is also an ecologically contained system, meaning its seeds will not survive in natural habitats: it must be cultivated to survive. This makes barley biologically and ecologically containable.

Barley also possesses another useful characteristic for molecular farming: it can safely store all its new proteins in its seeds, where they are protected from breaking down or deactivating.

Our bioengineered barley is grown in our high-tech greenhouse, located in the middle of the Icelandic lava fields, designed and built in 2008 to suit our specific needs. It has a negative CO2 footprint and we exclusively use natural geothermal energy and pure subterranean glacial water for our plants.

The plants are grown in abundant, inert volcanic pumice instead of soil to ensure purity in the production process.

Bioengineering a barley plant to produce a new human growth factor takes approximately 14 months of scientific laboratory work and greenhouse cultivation. At any given time, we are growing up to 130,000 plants.

The biological containment of barley allows us to grow different barley plants, with different growth factors, all in the same greenhouse, with no risk of cross-breeding. Currently we have twenty-five different growth factors in production.

In the beginning ORF Genetics was solely focused on producing growth factors and proteins for medical research and stem cell technology.

A few years later we added skincare to our roster.

Today we are developing ways to use proteins in taste management, expanding our skincare range to create products for aesthetic medical use and so much more.

Simple, pure, effective

ORF Genetics founded BIOEFFECT when we discovered a way to bioengineer a plant-based human replica of epidermal growth factor, EGF, in our barley – till then EGF had only been grown in bacteria or extracted from human tissue. It represents a scientific breakthrough in skincare, building on the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of EGF to stimulate cells to renew themselves.

Our barley-based EGF replenishes the body's own natural supply of EGF encouraging cells to rejuvenate, increasing skin turnover and radiance while slowing down the aging process. It boosts production of collagen and elastin, increasing both tone and elasticity.

It also improves the skin's capacity to store water and reduce water loss. The result is healthier, denser, more hydrated, and younger-looking skin.

We have conducted over 40 high quality in-house skin studies confirming the efficacy of our products, most of them double-blinded placebo-controlled efficacy studies, duration ranging from two months to three years.

Independent studies, conducted by academic researchers, have also objectively confirmed improvements in skin thickness and skin density unparalleled within the cosmetic industry.

Among those is Dr Martina Kerscher, professor of cosmetic science at the University of Hamburg and world-renowned expert on dermatology.

She did the first double-blinded placebo-controlled split-face study for a skincare product in the world. In the study, 29 women applied our EGF serum twice daily for two months, the result: up to 60 percent increase in thickness and 30 percent increase in skin density.

Our challenge is always to understand what our skin cells need to perform better and how we can provide them with those vital components for a healthy function in the most effective way.

Our original EGF Serum contains only seven ingredients which is certainly a rarity in the skincare industry.

Modern cosmetics usually contain a plethora of different ingredients. However, we should always ask ourselves if our skin is actually calling for layers of chemicals that our cells are usually unfamiliar with and have limited capacity to process and deal with.

Author bio

BIOEFFECT is currently sold in 28 different countries and our products have won multiple awards. The skincare-line is currently made up of nine products but two new additions will join the ranks early this summer and we hope to add further products in the coming years.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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