Botaneco, a Calgary, Alberta-based maker of personal care ingredients, has opened a technical service lab in Lambertville, N.J., to develop a U.S. customer base for its safflower-derived oleosomes.
Oleosomes are micron-sized, oil-containing spheres found in oil-bearing plant seeds such as safflower, sunflower, and rapeseed. In addition to skin moisturizing properties, they have emulsification and active ingredient delivery applications, Botaneco says. The new lab, in a refurbished 19th century paper mill, will allow customers to test them out.
The separation of intact oleosomes from plant seeds is based on work originally done at the University of Calgary, explains James Szarko, Botaneco’s CEO. In 1994, the university licensed the technology to SemBiosys Genetics, which focused on developing pharmaceuticals from genetically engineered safflower plants.
In 2012, SemBiosys sold the oleosome separation technology to a group of private investors, including Szarko. Today, Botaneco holds 36 patents on its oleosome technology, and five more are pending, Szarko says. The company claims to be the only supplier of oleosomes.
Oleosomes are destroyed in the crushing, heating, and solvent extraction techniques typically used to remove oil from oilseeds, explains Vince Gruber, Botaneco’s chief innovation officer. Botaneco, in contrast, grinds non-genetically-modified seeds in water at room temperature and uses a centrifuge to concentrate the intact oleosomes in what looks like a watery cream, he says.
Because the oleosomes are surrounded by a phospholipid membrane, they have hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties suitable for emulsifying cosmetic ingredients, Gruber says. In addition, oil-soluble active ingredients can be loaded into the oleosomes, he notes.
Botaneco sees an opportunity to load oleosomes with ultraviolet-light-blocking ingredients for the sun protection market. It claims to be able to achieve high sun protection factor (SPF) ratings while reducing oil-soluble UV absorber levels by up to 80%.