EU Cosmetics Industry & OPTIBIOCAT: How ELNs May Benefit Enzyme and Biocatalyst Research

woman tries sample at cosmetics counter
Members of the European cosmetic industry are investigating new biocatalysts that will make cosmetics production more efficient.
Image source: Flickr user Beyond Beauty Events

Cosmetics are loosely recognized as any product applied to the body, generally to improve appearance. From lipsticks to powders and lotions to nail lacquers, these products are the result of an enormous global industry. The massive EU cosmetics market alone was worth €67 billion in 2010. The EU market represents one-third of the global cosmetics market, with over 4,000 companies operating within the EU cosmetics industry. As part of a new EU program to promote research and innovation, the OPTIBIOCAT consortium was formed to develop new techniques “to replace chemical processes currently used for the production of cosmetics with cost-effective, energy-efficient and eco-friendly bioconversions.” The specific objectives of OPTIBIOCAT include generating an inventory of novel feruyl esterase (FAE) and glucuronoyl esterase (GE) enzymes from fungi and bacteria, optimizing biocatalysts and reactions based on these enzymes, developing production processes that allow for economically efficient and environmentally sustainable scale-up and disseminating information about OPTIBIOCAT biocatalysts to stakeholders.

The consortium identified seven Work Packages (WPs), or sub-projects, that will complete the entire undertaking. These WPs include all aspects, from project coordination and management, to identification and production of enzymes and information exchange. In pursuing these ambitious goals, labs in the European cosmetics industry should perhaps consider taking advantage of digital laboratory solutions, like an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN), to help progress and support research. An ELN can benefit your lab’s research through these valuable features:

Project management

For projects in which multiple people contribute to its completion, workflow reminders can help project managers make sure that everyone stays on task and in the loop. Reminders can let users know when a stage has been completed and alert them to complete their next task. Electronic signatures can keep managers involved and ensure administrative and scientific oversight of all stages of project development.

Promote collaboration and exchange of information

OPTIBIOCAT brings together an interdisciplinary group of experts from eight European countries and sixteen organizations. Without a system in place, it can be difficult to coordinate project plans and exchange information among such a broad group of collaborators. An ELN provides a central location for data, ideas and plans to be deposited and exchanged among designated users. Simple, real-time access is available to all users with the ability to upload large files like images, presentations and data. Full audit trails allow users to follow any changes and identify users involved in the project.

Chemistry productivity features

From optimizing biocatalysts to designing chemical reaction schemes for efficient biotechnological production of the biocatalysts, the objectives of OPTIBIOCAT are heavy in chemistry. An ELN can help streamline chemistry experiments by giving users the ability to digitally record chemical structures and reactions. Users can also upload SD files and search chemicals within notebooks using a comprehensive chemical search. The ability to integrate with your lab’s existing cheminformatics applications allows for simple implementation into your normal workflows.

Labs in the European cosmetics industry would greatly benefit from the implementation of an ELN to more efficiently achieve the objectives of the OPTIBIOCAT consortium. The Accelrys Notebook is an easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy ELN option that can be up and running quickly. Visit the Accelrys website to learn more about the Accelrys Notebook and how its features can help your lab traverse the field of cosmetic enzyme and biocatalyst research.

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