There's more to mussels than their culinary value? Creators of a new skincare line attribute mussel proteins that have been modified to mimic skin framework proteins such as collagen to being the key to rejuvenating and regenerating skin.

A partnership between Kollodis BioSciences and Novacell Technology resulted in a product range that says its active ingredient mimics the activity of extra cellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Mussel adhesive protein (MAP) is a compound found in the sticky glue secreted by the foot of the common mussel that anchors it to rocks and other surfaces. Kollodis has genetically engineered these proteins to include peptide genes such as fibronectin, liminin or collagen to produce the biofunctional mussel adhesive protein.

According to Kollodis, this is a polyphenolic protein that is non-toxic, biodegradable and has low immunogenicity. The engineered mussel adhesive proteins are supposed to provide for cell attachment, spreading and growth.

Deciphering through the science took some time, but here's what I've gathered about mussel adhesive proteins thus far:

-Mussel adhesive protein contains a high concentration of the amino acid, DOPA (dihydroxyphenylalanine), which can cling to wet surfaces with extraordinary strength. This is why it is used in adhesives like super glue. The mussel glue has even shown promise in the repair of defects in human fetal membranes, according to one 2010 Northwestern University study. According to Kollodis, this property could facilitate and promote interactions between cells because cell adhesion to the ECM is essential for their development and maintenance.

-Studies of mussel adhesive proteins and their characteristics over 20 years have identified three distinct types of collagenous proteins from the byssus, or bundle of thread like filaments of the mussel. I'm not sure why Kollodis needed to engineer their active ingredient to include collagen if it could be obtained from the shellfish itself, though.

-Marine and freshwater mussel adhesive proteins have a high polyphenolic content and some studies say that the plaque protein gene is a member of the epidermal growth factor-like gene family, which would be beneficial for cell growth.

-The New Zealand green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus, has anti-cyclooxygenase effects, which makes it an anti-inflammatory. Some herbalists do say that the oil can be used to benefit the skin, though I don't think this is the same mussel that Kollodis uses for their active ingredient.

All in all, it seems as if there could definitely be something to mussel adhesive proteins. I'm interested to see if there will be more ranges of skincare jumping on the mussel boat in the near future.