Human-Based Gelatin Created by Chinese Researchers

Categories: WTF?

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stevendepolo
​Researchers at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology have discovered a method for creating large quantities of human-derived gelatin, which in theory, could become a substitute for the thousands of tons of animal-based gelatin used in desserts, marshmallows, candies, and other products.

Gross! Why would anyone ever want to make human-based gelatin? The reason, according to researcher Jinchun Chen and his colleagues, is that animal-based gelatin is usually made from collagen in the bones and skins of cows and pigs, which means that there's a risk, however small, that the gelatin carries infectious diseases such as mad cow disease. Animal-based gelatin can also provoke immune system responses in some people. Hence, human-derived gelatin would be healthier and safer.

But -- isn't that some kind of indirect cannibalism? Asks Clay Dillow on Popsci.com. SF Weekly checked out the abstract of Chen's paper to see exactly what "human-derived" gelatin means.

What Chen and his team have done is inject human gelatin genes into a strain of yeast, using genetic engineering techniques. The modified yeast cells then produce the gelatin. So (phew!) it's not human bones and skins being boiled for collagen, as is done with animal-based gelatin, just bits of DNA. That's a bit better, though it still makes us queasy thinking about it.

According to Chen, the human-yeast gelatin is also more stable than animal-based gelatin, which has a high variability from batch to batch, so this method would allow for higher quality control. Their main goal is to use the human-derived gelatin for drug capsules and other medical applications, so it is unlikely that we'll see it in our food any time soon ... we hope.

For the scientifically inclined, you can access Chen's paper, "New Strategy for Expression of Recombinant Hydroxylated Human-Derived Gelatin in Pichia pastoris KM71," here.



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14 comments
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Bruce Miller
Bruce Miller

Where China is in science. Read on! to the end! Yes, in fact they are at least parallel if not ahead of U.S. here and in nuclear technologies, and their Stem well work far exceeds the wildest U.S. dreams, in fact curing blindness in an American girl last year, in spite of the objections of the 'know it all' AMA! Will wonders ever cease? Not if China keeps searching the entire Asian gene pool for the brightest and giving them the best chances possible. U.S. gene pool? very shallow, education depends on richness not smartness, a corporatist's distortion to be sure, and a very damaging one. Blessed are the Canadian students, they receive help, funding, one University (Trent) offers free tuition for highest grades.

Noemail
Noemail

Isn't Mad Cow Disease found in the brain of a cow? 

Zeprin
Zeprin

And here I thought they'd answered the over population question.

rici
rici

isnt it amyloid plaques that are present in both mad cow disease and Alzheimers disease?

Kwainoi
Kwainoi

The scary thing is this coming from China. How long before they start using executed prisoners? 

CPF
CPF

How badly do we need Jell-O?

kev
kev

I'd welcome gelatin coming from bits of human dna and not from dead animals.  Far less cruelty involved.    

SFNative
SFNative

It's made out of people!

Thedrbuchanan
Thedrbuchanan

Mad cow disease is a protein-based disease. Utilizing the genetic material in this way would not carry risk of this or a similar disease.

Who
Who

Isn't cannibalism where mad cow disease came from in the first place (feeding cow parts to cows)?  I wonder if utilizing the genetic material carries the same risk.

Joe
Joe

You do realize that human sacrifice, and cannibalism, takes place continually around the world in Roman Catholic masses! If you were a Cathollic, you would believe.

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