Taylor’s team recognised for developing faux meat and natural cosmeceutical products

A team of academics from the School of Biosciences, Taylor’s University have translated significant findings from their research to successfully formulate SeaMet, a nutritionally balanced meat alternative made from green seaweed, Caulerpa racemose, as well as two natural cosmeceutical products and in time for BioMalaysia & Asia Pacific Bioeconomy 2017. The 3+1 Natural-Oils Soap and 3-in-1 Natural Facial Mask are two natural cosmeceutical products developed using the extracts of a local species of brown seaweed - Sargassum polycystum to target pimples and maintain healthy skin. Their projects were recognised as one of the Most Innovative Products and Commercial Ready Products at the exhibition this year.
 
“We are extremely proud of our academics’ feat at BioMalaysia & Asia Pacific Bioeconomy 2017,” said Dr. Phelim Yong, Head of School for the School of Biosciences, Taylor’s University. “Their achievement is a true testament to our School’s commitment to fashion commercial viable products based on in-depth research, which in turn, benefits the well-being of the public.”
 
In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for healthy and delicious meat-free food for personal health and well-being. It is estimated that 4 billion people in the world live primarily on a plant-based diet, therefore there is a great demand for meat alternatives or vegan meat. SeaMet offers this alternative, developed with marine green seaweed which is low in fat, rich in fibre and protein – a first in the market. 


A group snapshot of the Taylor’s SBS participating team (students and lecturers) with Faculty and university management staff
 
“SeaMet has a long shelf-life as it is stored in its dried form and can easily be reconstituted simply by adding boiling water,” said research lead, Dr. Yeo Siok Koon, a senior lecturer in the School of Biosciences, Taylor’s University. “It also has excellent cooking properties, comparable to soy-based mock meat. More importantly, it contains added health benefits like antioxidants and antibacterial properties – perfect for consumers that are nutrition savvy.” She added that the main ingredient, the green seaweed Caulerpa racemosa is commonly found in Malaysia.
 
The other project entry focused on a common skin problem affecting most adolescents and young adults – pimples. Pimples is a rather common skin condition caused by clogged hair follicles (pores) in the skin mainly due to excess oil (sebum) production in the sebaceous glands during puberty. Comedones (clogged pores) and inflamed papules and pustules may develop into moderate and severe stages of acne. Among Malaysians, it was reported that 74 per cent of individuals aged between 12 to 24 years old are affected by acne. Plugged follicles create a suitable condition for proliferation of the bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis, which indirectly contributes to inflammation in sebaceous glands-rich areas such as the face, upper back, neck and chest. Severe facial pimples, if prolonged and left untreated may adversely affect an individual’s psychological well-being. 


The team (left to right) Dr. Tam Sheh May, Dr. Wong Ching Lee and Ms Jamie Kok with their cosmeceutical products developed from local brown seaweed
 
A team of three researchers, Ms. Jamie Kok, Dr. Tam Sheh May along with team lead, Associate Professor Dr. Wong Ching Lee, developed the 3+1 Natural-Oils Soap and 3-in-1 Natural Facial Mask which are formulated with scientifically tested extracts of S. polycystum, and share key features of possessing effective anti-bacterial, high antioxidant for anti-inflammatory and anti-lipase activities – specifically targeting and inhibiting P. acnes & S. epidermidis proliferation and ease the pimple skin condition.
 
According to Associate Professor Dr. Wong Ching Lee, the group was motivated to develop two natural products, due the prevalence of the skin condition among young Malaysians. “Seaweed has traditionally been used in skincare products in Korea, Japan and China due to its beneficial skin properties; moreover, brown seaweed is commonly and abundantly found in many coastal areas of Malaysia. Therefore, we can also help promote sustainable usage of local resources and support coastal livelihoods,” said Dr. Ching Lee, who has a doctorate degree in Algal Biotechnology and is a recognised Malaysian seaweed expert, with over 20 years of active research experience.


The Bronze medal team in the Most Commercial Ready (Health and Wellness) category for the 3+1 Natural-Oils Soap at the BioMalaysia & Asia Pacific Bioeconomy 2017
 
Given the popularity of face masks lately, the team also created a 3-in-1 Natural Facial Mask, a dissolvable mask made uniquely with crude sodium alginate extracted from the brown seaweed, enhanced with the seaweed extracts to help reduce pimples. According to Ms. Jamie, “The mask dissolves upon contact with water, and there is no waste material to deal with, hence it is more environmentally friendly.” An experienced lecturer and Program Director of the Foundation in Science programme, Ms. Kok added that cosmetics with natural elements are now considered as one the best-selling products in Malaysia, whereby skin care products are the main driver of the cosmetics market – representing a value of US$229 million in 2015. 
 
“The 3+1 Natural-Oils Soap is a perfect combination of being rich in minerals, as brown seaweeds are known to possess high ash content, and together with the extracts and natural oils, using the soap may help to maintain healthy skin at the same time,” said Dr. Tam Sheh May, who has a combined 15 years of research and teaching experience. “The soap was developed using all natural ingredients due to the increased consumer awareness and demand for natural personal care products,” she explained.
 
Prototypes of these products were showcased at the recent BioMalaysia & Asia Pacific Bioeconomy 2017 held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC). Bronze medals in the Most Commercial Ready and Most Innovative Product categories were awarded to SeaMet and Most Commercial Ready category to the 3+1 Natural-Oils Soap; and the team is now looking to license the products to interested parties. 


A group photo after bagging bronze medals in the Most Commercial Ready and Most Innovative categories for SeaMet and 3+1 Natural-Oils Soap at the recent BioMalaysia & Asia Pacific Bioeconomy 2017