New way of producing useful compounds from birch for the cosmetics industry

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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has used plant cell culture technology. They used it to develop new types of ingredients for the cosmetics industry. Cell cultures originate from birch leaves and seeds, produce pigments. In addition, compounds help to keep products. They also inhibit the growth of harmful microbes. Cell culture technology is a natural and environmentally friendly production method.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has used plant cell culture technology to develop new types of ingredients for the cosmetics industry. Cell cultures, which originated from birch leaves and seeds, produce pigments, as well as compounds that help to preserve products and inhibit the growth of harmful microbes. Cell culture technology is a natural and environmentally friendly production method.

Biotechnology-assisted production provides many advantages. Thats compared to using traditional plant materials. Plant-based compounds of consistently high quality and produced for industrial use year-round. They are also free of pollution and plant diseases.

Birch cell cultures can produce pigments. They produce yellow carotenoids and red anthocyanins. As well, various amino acids important for the skin. They also produce essential fatty acids for humans. Some examples are linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acids. These acids play an important role in maintaining the skin’s moisture and elasticity. The chemical composition of cultured cells is different from the real plant. Furthermore, compound production volumes influenced by different biotechnological processing methods.

Biotechnology-assisted production provides many advantages compared to using traditional plant materials. Plant-based compounds of consistently high quality can be produced for industrial use year-round, free of pollution and plant diseases.
Birch cell cultures can produce pigments – yellow carotenoids and red anthocyanins – as well as various amino acids important for the skin. They also produce essential fatty acids for humans, especially linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acids, which play an important role in maintaining the skin’s moisture and elasticity. The chemical composition of cultured cells is different from the actual plant, and compound production volumes can be influenced by different biotechnological processing methods.

Due to their composition, birch cell cultures have antioxidant properties. These properties can improve preserving products and antimicrobial properties. The properties can influence the microflora of the skin. It does that by inhibiting the growth of harmful microbes. So it seems that In the cell culture technology developed by VTT, LEDs can greatly increase the amount of red pigment. LEDs can positively affect the antioxidative properties of cells. Finally, they increase their antimicrobial activity.

“Cell cultures are an opportunity to use wood material in a new way. By natural means, we can get compounds that have not traditionally been associated with birch, such as anthocyanin pigments which belong to the group of red polyphenols,” says Riitta Puupponen-Pimiä, Principal Scientist at VTT.

Cell cultures also produce interesting polyphenols. Interestingly, it’s a kind that are not found in birch. In general and in addition, polyphenols are powerful antioxidants. As well, they prevent harmful oxidation reactions on the skin caused by free radicals. Seems the cultures can also prevent fats from oxidation and a longer shelf-life.

Due to their composition, birch cell cultures have antioxidant properties that can improve the preservation of products and antimicrobial properties, which can influence the microflora of the skin by inhibiting the growth of harmful microbes. In the cell culture technology developed by VTT, LEDs can greatly increase the amount of red pigment, positively affect the antioxidative properties of cells and increase their antimicrobial activity.


Birch cell cultures have been plant biotechnology research by VTT over 20 years ago. Since then, cultures have been stored in liquid nitrogen in VTT Culture Collection. The idea of using birch cell cultures in cosmetics launched in a project belonging to VTT’s Innovative Business from Emerging Technologies Programme.

VTT Culture Collection: http://culturecollection.vtt.fi/