Carminic acid and melanin in medicine and cosmetics

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Our iGEM Team 2022

Our project

Our current project deals with the microbial production of two pigments, carminic acid and melanin, as well as their application in cosmetic and medical products. The pigment carminic acid has antibacterial properties, which we want to use in various ways in our project. Since carminic acid is mainly extracted from scale insects, our goal is to produce it synthetically and biologically.  With our genetic engineering approach, we want to produce carminic acid in an environmentally friendly, animal-friendly and biological way with microorganisms. Subsequently, the red pigment can be used in cosmetics for instance in lipsticks as a vegan alternative.  We also want to address the problem of using silver particles in medical bandages for people with silver intolerances. We want to use carminic acid instead of silver nanoparticles in medical bandages and use its antibacterial properties.

Melanin, which will also be used in the lipstick, brings many useful properties. In addition to its darker colour, melanin has UV-absorbing properties and high biocompatibility. In combination with carminic acid, a lipstick with versatile positive properties arises. This combination of antimicrobial, vegan and UV-absorbing properties in a biocompatible lipstick would be exceptional.