Protein extracts from rice starch could have cosmetics possibilities says EU project

Protein extracts from rice starch could have cosmetics possibilities says EU project

Rice – good enough to eat, and now, potentially good enough to make new cosmetics, after an EU-funded project researching the extraction of small pieces of protein from rice starch by-products for ‘superfoods’, found there could be an application in the personal care industry.

Rice flour and starch, due to their high derma-compatibility, are used cosmetics, particularly in products that treat dry and delicate skin, and have been gaining momentum.

Now it seems protein extracts from the rice starch could be converted into peptides that have uses in many different applications.

It is all part of the BIORICE project, which brings together 6 partners distributed in 3 EU Member States and 1 Associated Country to research in the areas of plant biotechnology, downstream processing and human tissue engineering available to 3 SMEs operating in the nutraceutical, food and cosmetic markets.

This partnership should see the SMEs adding new technologies and new bioactive ingredients to their existing product ranges – a priority for any SME wanting to remain competitive.

New developments

In their latest work, the researchers have developed biotechnological processes to convert the by-products found in the processing water of rice starch into different ‘peptides’ , which would be added to food or used to create food supplements.

The team has also been successful in isolating completely new potential ingredients containing a small molecule or a mixture of small bioactive peptides; with the next step being to see how these ingredients could be used to develop brand new functional foods and cosmetics.

“Up until now, these rice by-products were broken down and discarded by specialist companies,” says BIORICE project coordinator Annalisa Tassoni from the University of Bologna in Italy.

“The new peptides could lead to much healthier options coming to market, transforming the food, cosmetics and nutraceuticals sectors.”

What’s next…

Once the team has identified the newly discovered peptides, they will then test to see if they are completely safe and whether they contain beneficial properties such as anti-oxidants.

The project is also developing a method for testing how human skin is likely to react to products containing peptides, which involves reconstructing a complete human epidermis and could eliminate the need for animal testing.

Although there is still some way to go in the project, the researchers are already examining the peptides discovered to identify how they could be used commercially.

One of the project's partners, testing laboratory Farcoderm, is already developing and looking to commercialise the reconstructed human skin. A market-ready product could be available within two years, says Tassoni.

The BIORICE project aims to provide 'super' ingredients without using solvents or chemicals to isolate them from by-products.

“Physical separation methods such as membrane filtration are used instead of chemical solvents and this avoids any harm to human health,” says Tassoni.

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