Shiseido researcher Taro Uchiyama works on the research of collagen as food products at Shiseido.
For many years, he has been involved in collagen research and development at Shiseido and in 2011, he acquired a beauty patent for the combination use of “Cowberry” + “Amla Fruit”. We have asked him about the forefront of collagen research including what we know about collagen up to now and how it will be incorporated into foods in the future.
Shiseido GIC (Global Innovation Center) Healthcare Development Group
- Joined Shiseido and was assigned to the Pharmaceutical Research Labo. Engaged in development research of hormones and anti-inflammatory agents
- Transferred to Food Labo. In charge of development of beauty health supplements and specific health foods
Advanced Research Center (ASR) Currently manager of Healthcare Development Group
Doctor of Pharmacy, Pharmacist
In the research I am in charge of, patents are necessary in order to bring out the uniqueness of the product and it is also an essential condition that the material selection can realize the effect. Thus, when we selected the core materials, tests were conducted repeatedly to confirm the effect in least 15-20 testing users. Our internal standard for food material safety is also very strict. For example, even if locals in a country eat a certain ingredient, it will not be used if it is not used in Japan. If it is not used in Japan, the same amount cannot be used. Though preparation is time consuming, we have to try again if we do not get the results expected from the testing. Considering that it will be sold as a product, we always need to take into consideration the costs of the materials used. It is also an important job to balance the benefits and costs.
If it is a material that may increase the ability to produce collagen, I would also try it myself if it something edible.
Starting from zero with material research to the end of taste testing of a product, I am involved in about 80% of the work. In fact, the original collagen drinks sold were not very delicious. Since then, we have put in quite a bit of effort to make them delicious. There is a team that works on the taste and we also go to the factory for tasting. However, there are also people who feel that it is not effective if they are not delicious, so it is also to find a good balance.
Shiseido discovered the synergistic increase in the ability to produce collagen by ingesting the combination of “Cowberry” which has the vitality to grow strongly even in the coldest regions of Northern Europe, and “Amla Fruit”, which is used a health food in India and Southeast Asia. The discovery led to the acquisition of a beauty patent in 2011 for purpose of improving skin firmness and nasolabial folds. After testing about 300 types of materials, we finally found the combination of these two. In the beginning of the research, we not only combined materials that could have the effect of producing collagen but also collected materials from a slightly different direction. There was a lot of pressure as we had to not only find effective materials but also acquire a patent.
The period of material evaluation was 5 to 6 years. We did not always have all the candidate materials in hand, so we first mapped out the effects of the materials such as those that have the ability to produce collagen, those that produce hyaluronic acid, those that inhibit saccharification, etc., then conducted experiments after considering the combinations.
“Amla”, a plant that is hardly heard of in Japan but has been used in Ayurveda in India since the ancient times, has effect on obesity and was a material that we found under this circumstance. We were introduced to this ingredient when we asked the team that researched on obesity in the company, “Is there a good material?”.
Though I worked on collagen when I was in university, I worked on medicine in the pharmaceutical research team after I joined Shiseido. I transferred to the food team 14 years after joining the company and with my university research experience, I became in charge of collagen research.
Since medicines are products that are supposed to be effective, I was uncertain if ingestion of food would also be effective when I first transferred to the food department. However, after having people testing taking them and listening to their feedback, my interest in food research became stronger.
Since Shiseido's collagen research focuses on “the power to produce collagen”, I hope that this will also be valued in the future. I hope to continue to further research on the production of collagen. Personally, I would like to examine in detail the mechanism of collagen production.
Though it is now well known that even if you take collagen, it does not turn into collagen, I think it is important for researchers to let the world know about “the power to produce collagen” through conference presentations and dissertation writing.