Fur grown in labs is becoming a reality
Is it real or is it faux fur ? one thing is sure : fur grown in labs is going to be a reality sooner or later, be it in a year or ten… Innovation is unstoppable. We had a chance to ask few questions to Maria Vlad, Chief Marketing Officer and Dr Sergey Leonov, Chief Scientific Officer, both part of the FUROID SA team in charge of this incredible innovation.
Can you tell us the concept of FUROID™️?
The concept is best described by our patent application, which can be quite technical in places, so let's lay it out in small, progressive installments :
We've used data from our patent, originally to grow human hair follicles in the petridish, to grow animal pelts and hides in the petridish.
During the process, we attach inseparable cellular/DNA-based anti-counterfeit properties to the resulting product, in order to aid in determination of provenance and origin; of importantance, since you want to supply clients --most likely fashion houses--with brand protection, but which also facilitates tracking possibilities to help disable the illegal fur/hide trade.
Ultimately, our invention invigorates, to a groundbreaking degree, the cruelty free bioengineering of animal pelts; while with the added feature, and benefit, of anti-counterfeiting measures, in the form of inseparable molecular signatures, for the sake of all the imaginable reasons why that is desirable: authenticity; provenance; timestamping; etc.
“there is a need for means and methods by which to derive bioengineered, cruelty free, animal pelts”
Maria Vlad, Chief Marketing Officer at FUROID SA.
Both in the marketplace, and in the cultural marketplace, there is a need for means and methods by which to derive bioengineered, cruelty free, animal pelts that possess the desired mechanical properties; or biomaterial properties; or textile quality; or cellular composition and disposition; or tissular properties. Our application addresses this need and thus provides means and methods by which to derive ALL of those specifically desired traits.
A cell when used herein may preferably be a vertebrata cell. A vertebrata (explanation: every species with a spine) cell may preferably be a cell from an antelope, antilopini, beaver, buffalo, caiman, caracal, cat, cheetah, chinchilla, cow, crocodille, deer, eland, elephant, ermine, faux, fisher, fox, genet, giraffe, goat, golden jackal, hedgehog, horse, leopard, lynx, lion, marten, mink, monkey, ape, nutria, otter, rabbit, rhinoceros, sable, serval, sheep, shrew, snake, stoat, swine, wolf, Australian brushtail possum, mouse or rat. A preferred vertebrata cell is a stem cell or induced pluripotent stem cell or adult stem cell or differentiated cell. The vertebrata cells may be obtained from a healthy individual. The vertebrata cell may be from a cell line; e.g., a deposited cell line or a commonly available cell line.
Objections to the invention:
1. It is an objection to provide for means and methods to manufacture bioengineered pelts, to be a source for textile industry and pelt industry.
2. It is an objection to provide for a system and method to derive bioengineered pelts that circumvent the need for conventional pelt farming.
3. It is an objection to provide a bioengineered pelt with a unique pre-coded genetic signature combination that distinguishes it from other pelt sources, including pelt farming or poached pelts.
(This image : fixed hair follicle prototype)
The fashion industry is in the midst of a "crisis of consciousness." Both internal and external pressures, exuded upon the industry, beg of it the reduction in the number of animal lives expended for use in its collections. Do you see, how within fashion's foreseeable future, it becomes easy to imagine luxury houses buying fur directly from the laboratory?
In our opinion, the laboratory will inevitably be the sole available source for cell-based fur/wool materials; due to the aforementioned industry pressures, and due to administrative and governmental regulatory frameworks that will render farming and trapping illegal and cost-inefficient, ultimately grinding a total halt to those obsolete methods.
From perspectives both ethical and environmental, it is increasingly realized as an unacceptable waste of life and resources to kill animals for their fur, wool, and hides, or to expose them to cruel procedures for any such sake.
Uniquely, our technology is able to exclude the process of tanning and coloration, since these properties can be edited at the cellular level.
We foresee a soon world in which, following testing, our products immediately begin replacing the more obsolete form of furs and hides, among every industry participant who understands:
Innovation is not stoppable, and cruelty is not acceptable; both of which conditions being satisfied by a future that features biofabrication.
Biofabrication disrupts the abuse of animals.
Regarding our work on endangered species conservation: We are building a stem cell database from reprogrammed Induced pluripotent Stem Cells (abbreviated IPSC) from endangered species. We have initiated the program by successfully starting with mink IPSC, given that every year between 40 and 85 million minks are slaughtered. By cryogenically preserving those cells, we contribute substantially to animal welfare and conservatory science.
“Regarding our work on endangered species conservation : We are building a stem cell database from reprogrammed Induced pluripotent Stem Cells (abbreviated IPSC) from endangered species”
What are the biggest challenges faced by your team today and what kind of support do you need ?
We already have faced some delaying and obstructive tactics from a major fashion house that was resistant to change; discretion demands we keep the name to ourselves; simply put, their CEO was dismissive of the structure and rigors of scientific evaluation, and seemingly lacked the vision to foresee the ripple effect this innovation will assuredly have, industry-wide.
it’s a classic scenario :
Funding is always the biggest challenge. We have a noteworthy, newsworthy story as to the creation of the idea; we have the relevant patents; we have a competent team, replete with the necessary background - medical CRO- ; we have access to the technology; but we lack the funding to see this groundwork through to fruition.
Another problem is one already partly alluded to.
1. Fashion houses tend to not have realistic expectations of how to further develop the product... expecting conclusions without experiments, forecast requests without industrial scale-up and feasibility studies, etc...
2. Venture capitalists being too slow in their decision-making, and asking for percentages that are too high.
3. Animal welfare organizations would love to engage with us - and support us- , but often they haven't the money to fund themselves, let alone to fund an idealistic endeavor as ours.
The most intelligent solution (and most impactful), would be to receive grants or donations from philanthropic organizations, else there’s little chance of being able to supply every market participant with our innovations, because fashion brands and investors will seek exclusivity as a condition of partnership.
We view our innovations as too grand in scope for one fashion group, and have a distinct preference for the mass market.
A good starting point might consist of a comprehensive news article detailing our innovations, or other such media support.
An alternative funding scenario - similar to the licensing models in pharmaceutical biotechnology- could be the payment of an evaluation license whilst the prototyping phase.
This would require a minimum annual fee of 10.000€ or maximum 0,5% of the annual gross sales income. This strategy would enable even small brands to participate in the industrial upscale phase. Furthermore we see this idea as a "democratic“ approach in regards to accessing the mass market.
Only the positive perception the brand will have on its client base, within being an participating partner in the FUROID™️ project will boost the brands sales and customer recognition.
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