Venoms and toxins: Nexgen Biotech sees huge cosmetics potential for synthetic spider venom and botox alternative

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Nexgen Biotech believes its bioengineered synthetic spider venom and botulinum toxin (BTX) alternative product have ‘huge potential’ for cosmetics markets. ©GettyImages
Nexgen Biotech believes its bioengineered synthetic spider venom and botulinum toxin (BTX) alternative product have ‘huge potential’ for cosmetics markets. ©GettyImages
Nexgen Biotech claims that its bioengineered synthetic spider venom and botulinum toxin (BTX) alternative product have ‘huge potential’ for cosmetics markets in Korea and beyond, covering areas from anti-ageing to wound-healing.

The South Korean bioengineering company showcased both products at the in-cosmetics Korea show earlier this year. The first, dubbed ESV, is a synthetic spider venom and human epidermal growth factor (EGF) hybrid protein.

Kenny Shin, president of Nexgen Biotech, explained that ESV is purely synthetic and has been engineered to have a structure exactly the same as that of natural spider venom.

He explained that small amounts of venom or toxin can help increase cell proliferation but EGF was found to boost the effectiveness of the product, hence Nexgen decided to combine the two.

“Based on our technical data, attaching EGF to spider venom results in 10 to 100 times better cell proliferation and whitening effect,” ​said Shin.

The new snail slime?

According to Shin, ESV was found to improve the appearance of wrinkles, skin elasticity and also carried skin lifting properties. The hybrid ingredient also has whitening properties because of its antioxidant activity.

“When we compared ESV to arbutin, a popular whitening ingredient, we found that it has almost the same effects,”​ he added.

Additionally, ESV can also be used for wound healing and hair care.

The company just obtained patents for the ingredient in January and Shin said that it received plenty of interest at the trade show.

Nexgen Biotech specialises in manufacturing proteins, and currently has over 100 proteins in its catalogue including scorpion venom, jellyfish protein and anti-freeze sea raven protein.

Shin said the South Korean consumer’s interest in new and unusual ingredients, like snail slime, was what made the company investigate into things like spider venom. He believed that ESV has the potential to become the ‘next snail slime’.

“South Korean beauty consumers are always on the lookout for new things. Global cosmetic companies know that it is an excellent test market because South Koreans have more demanding standards than other consumers in terms of beauty.”

Botox alternative

Aside from ESV, Nexgen also showcased its BTX alternative, BTALE, a cosmetic ingredient that is applied topically but has similar effects to BTX.

 “We believe the demand for this is very high and there’s huge market potential. BTALE can be a substitute of ​BTX, you can say it’s for people who do not want to go through an invasive procedure. It does not require the use of needles and you don’t have to go through the trouble of going to the clinic,”​ said Shin.

BTALE acquired a US patent about two months ago and is currently awaiting an EU patent.

“We have already received an official letter from the EU patent house, so you can be sure we will receive our second patent very soon,”​ he added.

Future of Nexgen

According to Shin, the company has supplied EGF to the biggest cosmetic company in South Korea for use in its prestige cosmetics line since 2007. Additionally, it also provides its products to over 70 of the top aesthetic houses in Korea.

“Many people don’t know it, but we have an excellent record and we are always looking for new peptides and new proteins,”​ said Shin.

Currently, the company is focused on two other areas of cosmetics: hair loss and acne.

“Acne care has a lot of potential and it is a very profitable business. Another area is in hair care. More and more people, not just in South Korea, are worrying about hair loss and there aren’t enough solutions available,”​ said Shin.

 “We have hair loss products already and we have some discussion going on with the South Korean FDA. Once we conclude our clinical tests, it will open up a big market for us.”

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