CANADA - Chitosan from shrimp shells
The Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development (CASD) within the Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University has concluded a three year project with Chitocean, a local biotechnology company, to validate technology licensed from the German life sciences company, Ensymm Company, which uses an innovative process to produce multiple pure, safe and natural chitosan products from shrimp shells
The Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development (CASD) within the Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University has concluded a three year project with Chitocean, a local biotechnology company, to validate technology licensed from the German life sciences company, Ensymm Company, which uses an innovative process to produce multiple pure, safe and natural chitosan products from shrimp shells.
Chitin is a component found in shrimp and crab shells that, once extracted, can be converted into chitosan which has a wide range of quality grades that determine its market. Medical companies using biomedical chitosan (the highest grade), send their chitosan through clinical trials to obtain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Ensymm developed a process that is used to extract chitosan from different types of shell material. Since the technology had previously only been used on warm water shrimp, Chitocean licensed the technology and involved MI to act as the independent validator of the technology to conclude if it would work on Northern shrimp shells.
“At CASD we strive to provide applied scientific and technical expertise to our industry clients, helping them improve their processes and successfully develop new products,” said Heather Manuel, director, CASD. “One of our key priorities is to create, evaluate and apply new innovative processes for the development and pilot scale production of value added marine bio-products. Our goal is to apply innovative eco-friendly technologies, such as the technology developed by Ensymm, and to use it to promote full utilization of our natural marine resources.”
The validation study was conducted in two phases: (1) lab scale and (2) pilot scale. During the validation process a number of technical challenges were encountered. CASD worked in collaboration with Ensymm and Chitocean to mitigate and optimize the process to accommodate Northern shrimp shells. The enhancement of the process included combining a unique air blowing pre-treatment of the shells, feasible enzymatic deproteination, depigmentation using an inorganic solvent and a multi-stage end product conversion process. These processes were used in an innovative manner which has not previously been conducted on a commercial scale in this process combination.
The new process results in the production of multiple chitosan products for various markets including industrial applications up to biomedical applications. The chitosan products will be used for a wide array of applications such as in cosmetic skin care products and drug/vaccine carriers in the pharmaceutical industry.Medical grade chitosan
“With the validated process in hand Chitocean will commercialize production of chitosan as high quality ingredients for numerous medical and cosmetic applications,” said Diane Hollett, commercialization partner, Chitocean. “The North American market for this grade of chitosan is growing at rates of 17% per year, with over 200 patented applications in the United States alone driving growth in the advanced medical fields. Globally, the market is growing at a rate of 15% annually.”
Funding for this initative was provided by the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation.
Above: Shell Demineralization; Below: Medical grade chitosan