Elastin is an essential protein for humans and animals. Elastin plays a major role in the formation of robust and elastic tissues and organs including the lungs, blood vessels, and the skin. Studies done on elastin proved that this protein has additional benefits of being antibacterial, antioxidative, and antiaging. These functional properties have made elastin a centre point in various research across different fields of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, bioengineering, health, molecular therapy, and cosmetics, among others. Unsurprisingly, the demand for this valuable protein has been increasing in these relevant sectors.
Like its sister protein collagen, elastin has been recognised for its potential in cosmetics and the skincare industry. In addition to its usage as an active ingredient in moisturisers and anti-ageing creams, elastin has been studied for its possible use in wounding and scar therapies. Apart from that, elastin has been analysed to be included in supplement tablets and functional foods for healthy consumption.
Commercially, elastin is distributed in powder or cream forms. Most, if not all, is extracted from animal sources like bovine and porcine. The market for elastin is highly valuable and the cost per gram is expensive considering the complexity of extraction, packaging, storage, and delivery processes. Finding an alternative source for high-quality elastin at a sustainable and affordable price is an interesting prospect to be considered. Not only that, the existence of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) among cattle populations could cause a lot of concerns regarding elastin that is sourced from bovine. As such, research and development of a process that could efficiently extract elastin from alternative sources are beneficial to many different stakeholders.
Some of the alternative sources of elastin that has been investigated are from the marine (fish and squids) and poultry (chicken) industries. Elastin that was extracted from marine sources is of high quality with stable properties and very suitable as biodegradable biofilm in the biomedical sector. However, there is a need to consider the issues of allergies among potential consumers. Meanwhile, a research team in the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia has done studies on the feasibility of elastin extracted from the by-products of the poultry industry. Malaysia can be considered as one of the, if not the largest country to produce halal poultry in Asia. Considering this, the nation’s poultry industry could easily supply sustainable, clean, and high-quality raw materials for elastin extraction. Raw materials from the poultry industry – such as chicken skin and chicken feet – were usually discarded or sold at a relatively low price for the processed food industry, e. g. nuggets and frankfurters. These by-products seem to have a better prospect to be used in the highly valued elastin production.
Elastin extracted from chicken skin not only contains a high purity yield/mass ratio but also possesses antioxidative and anti-hypertensive properties that are comparable to the pharmaceutical grade elastin in the market. The potential for this source of elastin should be explored further especially for its use in nutraceuticals and cosmetics. Apart from animal sources, synthetic elastin can also be made from biosynthetic processes. However, synthetic elastin so far has a very niche potential in the biomedical field only.
Elastin is a critical ingredient that is highly valuable in many fields. The status and source of this protein from the halal perspective are important for Muslim communities considering the current sources that could make the elastin-based products becoming syubhah. In essence, Malaysia is in the right position to add more value to the poultry industry in this country and region by producing halal elastin. This would not only fulfil the Islamic religious responsibility of fard’ kifayah but also can be a profitable venture.
• Nadalian, M., Kamaruzaman, N., Yusop, M. S. M., Babji, A. S., & Yusop, S. M. (2019). Isolation, purification and characterization of antioxidative bioactive elastin peptides from poultry skin. Food Science of Animal Resources, 39(6), 966–979. https://doi.org/10.5851/kosfa.2019.e90
• Kamaruzaman, N. & Yusop, S.M. (2021). Determination of stability of cosmetic formulations incorporated with water-soluble elastin isolated from poultry. Journal of King Saud University – Science, 33(6): 101519. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jksus.2021.101519
*This is an English version of an article titled “Elastin: Kegunaan, Sumber dan Potensi Halal di Malaysia”. Refer to this link for the original version in Malay.
Also Read: Why Halal Is A Big Business
Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute of Systems Biology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) (National University of Malaysia).