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Cosmetics drive growth for antifreeze proteins

Antifreeze proteins, also known as ice structuring proteins, bind to ice crystals and subsequently inhibit their growth and recrystallisation. They are biological antifreeze materials originally found in polar fish. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global antifreeze proteins market is projected to reach $10.2 million by 2022, at a CAGR of 30.0% from 2017. Factors such as improved farm fish production in cooler climates, benefits associated with antifreeze proteins, and their usage in cryopreservation are expected to drive the growth of the antifreeze proteins market during the forecast period. However, the high cost of production is one of the major factors restraining the growth of this market.

In the field of cosmetics, antifreeze proteins are used as an additive for preventing quality degradation of cosmetics. For instance, when cosmetics containing an oil component and a fat component are frozen, the water contained in the cosmetics may be crystallised to form ice. As a result, the oil and fat components are physically pressed, and the structure thereof is destroyed, whereby the quality and sense of use of the cosmetics become deteriorated. When an antifreeze protein is used in cosmetics, the degradation of quality can be avoided since the crystallisation of water is prevented and the structure of the oil and the fat components is maintained.

The major manufacturers that are actively participating and growing evidently in the global antifreeze proteins market are Kaneka Corp., Aqua Bounty Technologies, Sirona Biochem, Unilever, and ProtoKinetix.

Limitations in antifreeze proteins

High cost of production and R&D expenditure are the major restraints for the antifreeze proteins market. R&D expenses form one of the largest direct costs incurred by companies while manufacturing any product. This includes the cost for research, labor, power & utilities, consumables, and others. Extraction of an antifreeze protein from fish is a complex process and involves significant R&D investments. The antifreeze protein operates using a process known as thermal hysteresis, identified in Antarctic fish—lowering the freezing point of water in the hemolymph. Hysteresis may be more effective in insects. For substantial extraction of the protein, researchers from Notre Dame University suggest the collection of thousands of the bugs; a rate of 1 microliter of hemolymph per insect is needed (it takes 250,000 microliters to gather a cup). However, antifreeze proteins are large molecules with complex structures, making it hard to sequence them for commercial use.

North America to be the largest market

The number of drug approvals in North American countries has increased over the years, with expected increases in the coming years. The growth in number of drug approvals and patents is expected to support the demand for antifreeze proteins in the medical sector in the region.

North America has several national institutes that support research in biotechnology and life sciences. In the US federal R&D budget 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a medical research agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, requested funds worth $30.36 billion to support research activities in the country. These funds are directed toward high-end research activities in the fields of drug discovery and the conversion of basic research to clinical research. This has presented several opportunities for antifreeze proteins in cosmetics, medical, and food sectors.

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