Cannabidiol alternative: Korean firm seeks to overcome regulatory hurdles with plant-oil Bio-PECs

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Bio-PECs are plant oil-derived, enzyme-mediated compounds created via bioprocessing, which share similar benefits as cannabidiol. ©Incospharm
Bio-PECs are plant oil-derived, enzyme-mediated compounds created via bioprocessing, which share similar benefits as cannabidiol. ©Incospharm

Related tags cannabidiol Regulation CBD k beauty

Korean firm Incospharm is hoping its plant oil-modified endocannabinoids will find favour with brands that are struggling to gain regulatory approval for products containing cannabis-derived ingredients.

Despite continued interest among industry players, challenges in obtaining regulatory approval for cannabis-derived ingredients in beauty products remain an important hurdle.

To offer an alternative, Korean company Incospharm has developed two Bio-PEC (Biosynthesis Phyto-Endocannabinoid) oils, namely Bio-PEC Sunflower Seed Oil and Bio-PEC Evening Primrose Oil, which were introduced to the Asia-Pacific (APAC) market at in-cosmetics Asia in November.

Structurally akin to molecules in the cannabis plant, endocannabinoids​ are molecules produced by the human body. Bio-PECs are plant oil-derived, enzyme-mediated compounds created via bioprocessing.

As Bio-PECs mimic endocannabinoid activity, they share similar benefits as cannabidiol (CBD), such as anti-inflammatory, sebum reduction, acne control, and anti-hair loss.

While the Bio-PEC ingredients are not proprietary to Incospharm, the bioprocess involved is.

“CBD is not allowed to be used for cosmetic products in many countries, including South Korea and China. As Bio-PECs carry out the same biological activity as endocannabinoids​, you can expect CBD-like benefits without running into regulatory issues,” ​said Sekyoo Jeong, CTO of Incospharm.

From 9 February to 14 March 2022, Incospharm conducted a study comprising 21 volunteers with acne-prone skin. The participants received products containing the Bio-PEC Sunflower Seed Oil to be used for four weeks.

Their skin-surface hydration level was found to increase by 59.38% and 67.67% after two weeks and four weeks of product usage respectively; and the hydration level of the deeper skin layers rose by 159.37% and 118.43% at the two-week and four-week marks respectively.

In addition, the findings showed that sebum secretion rate reduced by 29.34% and trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) by 10.73% at the end of the study, signalling an improvement in skin barrier function. Visible improvements in skin redness and oiliness were also observed.

Partnership potential

“Since the launch of the Bio-PEC oils, we have received a lot of inquiries. We provide our collaborators with clinical data and technical training to support end-product manufacturers.”

“And if a brand or manufacturer wants to produce a proprietary Bio-PEC oil from a specific plant, we are not only able to customise it for them, but also conduct studies to back up their claims,”​ said Jeong.

In May, Incospharm joined hands with Maha Chemicals for the distribution of Bio-PEC ingredients in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It has also recently signed a distributorship agreement with a Thai firm.

With plans to expand its Bio-PEC range, the company is in talks with several Indian companies for distributorship while actively seeking new partnerships in the APAC region.

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