Saving children from malaria and protecting sharks from squalane hunters.
ABOUT 10 years ago, a small group of scientists at the University of California Berkeley set out to use an emerg- ing technology to provide high-performance, cost-com-petitive and sustainable alternatives to chemicals and petroleum
Founded in 2003 with a vision of making a positive impact on
the world through science, Amyris initially used its proprietary
process to convert plant sugars into an alternative, lower cost,
stable supply of anti-malarial therapeutics.
Saving Children from Malaria
Malaria is a preventable disease that affects more than a quarter
of a billion people and claims the lives of 650,000 people annually, mostly children under the age of five in Africa. Artemisinin
(Artemisia annua), sourced from the wormwood plant, has been
used for centuries in treating malaria but its availability, cost
and quality have been highly volatile.
Earlier this year, with the support from the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation, Amyris formally delivered on its lofty
promise, when a major pharmaceutical company began using
Amyris-designed microbes to produce enough semi-synthetic
Artemisinin for up to 150 million treatments by 2014 and will
ensure its distribution under the“no profit, no loss” principle.
The celebration did not end there.
This summer, Centerchem president Jon Packer joined in
the celebration to hail Amyris’s Neossance squalane, a sustainably and reliably sourced emollient. According to the executive,
Amyris is allowing cosmetic formulators to return squalane
to their products without the guilt associated with harvesting
sharks or the price and supply volatility of the olive derived
“For most companies, to be able to help save millions of
children afflicted with malaria, is reason enough to call it a success. But at Amyris, a group of innovative scientists and business leaders is not stopping there. They’ve expanded their core
technology to supply renewable alternatives to petroleum-based products across various sectors such as fuels and motor
oils to polymers and plastic additives and even hard to find fragrances and cosmetics ingredients like squalane,”
Amyris Neossance Squalane
Squalane is a natural non-polar emollient that
prevents skin moisture loss while restoring
suppleness and flexibility to the skin. Its exceptional moisturizing properties and affinity with
the skin have long made squalane a favorite
among cosmetics and personal care formulators.
Squalane, and the unsaturated version squalene, are both naturally present in the human
Historically, squalane has been sourced from
shark liver or olive oil, raising concerns about
its sustainability and availability. According to
published reports, up to three million deep-sea Amyris and Centerchem executives blow out their birthday candles.