We know that mother prescribes chicken soup for colds, but who could have guessed that an important key to anti-ageing was locked up in chicken sternums?
One company, BioCell Technology, not only guessed but did its scientific homework. Consequently, it has become the world's largest consumer of chicken sternums. You see, BioCell's main product, BioCell Collagen II — a patented ingredient derived from said sternums — is proving in study after study to be effective in combating both osteoarthritis and ageing skin.
Made from a single naturally occurring source, the ingredient is a natural matrix of type II collagen, glycosaminoglycans chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid (HA). "This is one of those situations where you can say the whole is greater than the sum of the parts," says Suhail Ishaq, the company's president. "It is something that distinguishes our ingredient from supplements that simply combine the various ingredients. Also, we have patented a processing method that reduces the molecular weight, making it more bio-available and allowing for an effective daily dose of 1-2g per day."
Despite the recent proliferation of hyaluronic acid products on the market, BioCell Collagen II appears to be the only HA-containing ingredient with a published human clinical study for efficacy, Ishaq says.
The idea for the ingredient began with Harvard studies on small doses of chicken sternum-derived collagen to treat rheumatoid arthritis. BioCell founders considered possible applications to treat osteoarthritis, which affects far more people, and engineered the method to render it bio-available, founding BioCell in 1997.
Things have come a long way since then. Numerous scientific studies have bolstered the profile of BioCell Collagen II. One showed an 86 per cent reduction in pain and stiffness for osteoarthritis sufferers. Patient enrollment has begun for BioCell's largest study to date to further evaluate and demonstrate the ingredient's efficacy in reducing osteoarthritis pain and stiffness. Today the company has more than 70 licensing partners worldwide that display the BioCell logo on their labels. In addition, Ishaq says BioCell is soon to release several new products.
It couldn't have picked a better market, it seems. "Everyone is ageing, and to varying degrees everyone is going to have to deal with osteoarthritis and ageing skin. The biggest trends are in the categories that have stood the test of time since the 1994 passage of DSHEA — supplements for joint health and aesthetic beauty such as skin and physical fitness. Products that are truly science based and effective have a loyal consumer following. The prevalence of osteoarthritis is expected to increase in the next decades as much as 40 per cent, making it the fourth leading cause of disability.
"Also, the 'beauty from within' category is particularly exciting," he says. "The paradigm in skin care, as I view it, has officially evolved. No longer will we think of topical and cosmetic surgery as our only options. Science shows that our skin is affected by exposure to sun and pollution, both of which generate free radical-induced damage to the skin and accelerate the skin-ageing process via collagen and hyaluronic-acid degradation."
Recently, BioCell launched a cosmetic grade of its ingredient for use in topical formulations. Clinical studies on this product are in the pipeline for release in 2009, Ishaq says. As well, Ishaq says he expects the ingredient to receive GRAS status in 2009, so that it can be incorporated into foods.
He sees soups as a good match for the ingredient.
Chicken soup, perhaps?