Plant Power in Medicine: How Plant-Based Cholesterol Is Revolutionizing Biopharmaceuticals

Now that it’s possible, why aren’t you using plant-based cholesterol in biopharmaceuticals to prevent spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) transmission? Plant-based cholesterol, alias vegetal sterols or phytosterols, is just a few years old, but its successful streak is provoking an exciting possibility in the biopharmaceutical world.

Non-animal cholesterol is necessary for wide-ranging biopharmaceutical products, including vaccines and gene therapies. Traditional sources of cholesterol, like egg yolks and animal serum, pose TSE transmission risks. Plant-derived cholesterol offers a safer alternative that’s also more sustainable and consistent.

This post explains why synthetic cholesterol manufacturers are ditching animal-based cholesterol and how plant power is transforming the biopharmaceutical industry. Let’s start with the basics, though, like reviewing cholesterol’s importance in biopharmaceuticals.

The Role of Cholesterol in Biopharmaceuticals

Cholesterol, a lipid molecule, is a vital structural and functional element in cell membranes. It provides cell stability and regulates fluidity. As pure cholesterol is an integral part of the cell membrane, it directly impacts drug efficacy and delivery. 

In biopharmaceuticals, cholesterol is a stabilizer for various proteins and nucleic acids. It prevents denaturation, aggregation, and inactivation of critical biomolecules. Researchers also use cholesterol to formulate liposomes that act as carriers for drug delivery.

Liposomal drug delivery systems have gained popularity in recent years due to their ability to:

Cholesterol plays a crucial role in these systems by providing membrane stability and enhancing drug uptake.

Moreover, mRNA-based vaccines and gene therapies require high cholesterol concentrations for successful transfection. Cholesterol enables efficient membrane fusion, resulting in higher transfection rates.

But pure cholesterol doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s always present as part of a larger structure in combination with other molecules. These molecular structures are called lipoproteins, and they transport throughout the body. 

Challenges with Animal-Based Cholesterol

Before early 2021, biopharmaceutical researchers heavily relied on animal sources for cholesterol and other structuring lipids. The most common source was egg yolk as it’s rich in cholesterol.

According to Dr Schinze, a professor of the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Magdeburg, spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) contamination was among the primary risks associated with animal-based cholesterol. 

Spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) affects the brain and nervous system, and you get it via infectious proteins called prions that are within animal-based cholesterol. 

The use of animal-based cholesterol also raised ethical concerns, especially among vegetarian and vegan populations. The production process often involves using animals in confined spaces.

The Shift Towards Non-animal Cholesterol

Dr Schinze works in the Faculty of Process and Systems Engineering at the University of Magdeburg. In 2021, his team of scholars collaborated with synthetic cholesterol manufacturers to develop the first Non-animal cholesterol. 

They discovered that plant-based and synthetic cholesterol could replace animal sources. 

What Is Synthetic Cholesterol?

Synthetic cholesterol is manufactured in the lab from plant or algal sources. It has the same chemical structure and properties as animal-derived cholesterol but does not come from animals. Instead, synthetic cholesterol manufacturers use plant and algal oils as feedstock to produce cholesterol.

The shift towards non-animal cholesterol has several benefits, both for the pharmaceutical industry and for animal welfare. Let’s go over some of the environmentally friendly advantages of synthetic cholesterol.

  1. Sustainable production: it does not involve the use of animals.
  2. Reduced risk of animal-to-human disease transmission like TSE.
  3. Lower carbon footprint as fewer resources are used in production.
  4. Potential cost savings for pharmaceutical companies due to a more efficient and streamlined process.
  5. Purification and quality control are easier due to the absence of animal proteins.
  6. An alternative for countries with religious or cultural restrictions on animal-derived products.
  7. Potential to reduce the dependence on animal sources and decrease their exploitation for pharmaceutical purposes.

A Top Synthetic Cholesterol: Advanced ChemTech’s FloraChol

Advanced ChemTech, based in Kentucky, has developed a synthetic cholesterol called FloraChol from plant-based materials. 

One of the main reasons the company chose to produce synthetic cholesterol from plants was due to a growing demand. Reliance on animal sources for cholesterol production was becoming unsustainable, so an alternative was necessary. 

Advanced ChemTech saw the potential in using plant-derived materials and invested in research and development to create FloraChol. This synthetic cholesterol is as close as you can get to pure cholesterol.

Different variations of FloraChol serve unique purposes and sectors. For example, they’re applied in

  • Injectable drug delivery.
  • Cell culture media. 
  • Animal serum replacement.
  • Reagent-grade analytical standards.
  • Pharmaceutical research and development.

Nucleic acid therapies rely on cholesterol as it’s the functional component in parenteral mRNA formulations. 

This pure, synthetic cholesterol eliminates the potential contamination with animal-sourced materials. Additionally, it offers higher control and consistency in production, resulting in more reliable research outcomes.

Moreover, FloraChol has several benefits not found in traditional cholesterol sources:

  • A more sustainable and eco-friendly option as fewer resources are used in production.
  • It’s made in the United States, so you know it’s from a safe and reliable source.
  • Its material consistency allows for precise dosing and formulations.
  • You can customize the size, purity, and grade for your specific research needs.
  • It’s free from impurities and other contaminants commonly found in animal-derived cholesterol, ensuring more accurate experiment data.
  • FloraChol is vegetarian-friendly and does not contribute to animal exploitation or cruelty.
  • Its production process utilizes advanced technology, ensuring a high-quality product that meets strict industry standards.

Embrace the Future with Plant-Based Cholesterol

We’re always working towards maximizing efficiency, minimizing risks, and becoming sustainable in our practices. In biopharmaceuticals, synthetic cholesterol manufacturers have found a way to achieve these goals with plant-based cholesterol.

FloraChol is one of the non-animal cholesterol sources that is becoming increasingly popular in the research and development sector. Its unique properties qualify it as an alternative to traditional cholesterol sources, offering scientists and researchers more control, consistency, and reliability in their experiments.

With FloraChol, we can embrace the future of biopharmaceuticals by choosing a sustainable and eco-friendly option without compromising on quality or results.

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