(19)
(11)EP 3 205 667 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
29.04.2020 Bulletin 2020/18

(21)Application number: 17156362.0

(22)Date of filing:  15.02.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
C07K 14/78(2006.01)
D01F 4/00(2006.01)
D06N 3/00(2006.01)
D01F 11/02(2006.01)

(54)

BIOFABRICATED MATERIAL CONTAINING COLLAGEN FIBRILS

BIOLOGISCH HERGESTELLTES MATERIAL MIT KOLLAGENFIBRILLEN

MATÉRIAU BIOFABRIQUÉ CONTENANT DES FIBRILLES DE COLLAGÈNE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 15.02.2016 US 201662295435 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
16.08.2017 Bulletin 2017/33

(73)Proprietor: Modern Meadow, Inc.
Nutley, New Jersey 07110 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Purcell, Brendan Patrick
    Brooklyn, NY 11225 (US)
  • Williamson, David Thomas
    Landenberg, PA 19350 (US)
  • Dai, Lixin
    Staten Island, NY 10312 (US)
  • Cassingham, Darryl Miles
    Bradford Abbas Dorset DT9 6RF (GB)
  • Spinella, Stephen M.
    Brooklyn NY 11204 (US)

(74)Representative: Brevalex 
56, Boulevard de l'Embouchure B.P. 27519
31075 Toulouse Cedex 2
31075 Toulouse Cedex 2 (FR)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 003 239
EP-A2- 0 089 029
WO-A2-2010/021738
EP-A1- 2 319 337
WO-A1-2017/053433
GB-A- 1 024 769
  
  • MARJAN SHAYEGAN ET AL: "Microrheological Characterization of Collagen Systems: From Molecular Solutions to Fibrillar Gels", PLOS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 2 August 2013 (2013-08-02), page e70590, XP055387090, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070590
  • HANNAH C. WELLS ET AL: "Collagen Fibril Diameter and Leather Strength", JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD CHEMISTRY, vol. 61, no. 47, 27 November 2013 (2013-11-27), pages 11524-11531, XP055387091, ISSN: 0021-8561, DOI: 10.1021/jf4041854
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/295,435 filed February 15, 2016. This application is related to US 2013255003, titled "ENGINEERED LEATHER AND METHODS OF MANUFACTURE THEREOF" and filed on 3/28/2013; US 2016097109, titled "ENGINEERED LEATHER AND METHODS OF MANUFACTURE THEREOF" and filed on 12/11/2015; and WO 2016/073453, titled "REINFORCED ENGINEERED BIOMATERIALS AND METHODS OF MANUFACTURE THEREOF" and filed on 11/3/2015.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Field of the Invention



[0002] This invention relates to biofabricated leather materials composed of unbundled and randomly-oriented trimeric collagen fibrils that exhibit superior strength, non-anisotropic properties, and uniformity by comparison to conventional leather products, but which have the look, feel and other aesthetic properties of natural leather. Unlike synthetic leather products composed of plastic resins, the biofabricated leather of the invention is based on collagen, a natural component of leather.

Description of Related Art.



[0003] Leather. Leather is used in a vast variety of applications, including furniture upholstery, clothing, shoes, luggage, handbag and accessories, and automotive applications. The estimated global trade value in leather is approximately US $100 billion per year (Future Trends in the World Leather Products Industry and Trade, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna, 2010) and there is a continuing and increasing demand for leather products. New ways to meet this demand are required in view of the economic, environmental and social costs of producing leather. To keep up with technological and aesthetic trends, producers and users of leather products seek new materials exhibiting superior strength, uniformity, processability and fashionable and appealing aesthetic properties that incorporate natural components.

[0004] Natural leathers are produced from the skins of animals which require raising livestock. However, the raising of livestock requires enormous amounts of feed, pastureland, water, and fossil fuels. It also produces air and waterway pollution, including production of greenhouse gases like methane. Some states in the United States, such as California, may impose taxes on the amounts of pollutants such as methane produced by livestock. As the costs of raising livestock rise, the cost of leather will rise.

[0005] The global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals per year. Most leather is produced in countries that engage in factory farming, lack animal welfare laws, or in which such laws go largely or completely unenforced. This slaughter under inhumane conditions is objectionable to many socially conscious people. Consequently, there is a demand from consumers with ethical, moral or religious objections to the use of natural leather products for products humanely produced without the mistreatment or slaughter of animals or produced in ways that minimize the number of animals slaughtered.

[0006] The handling and processing of animal skins into leather also poses health risks because the handling animal skins can expose workers to anthrax and other pathogens and allergens such as those in leather dust. Factory farming of animals contributes to the spread of influenza (e.g. "bird flu") and other infectious diseases that may eventually mutate and infect humans. Animal derived products are also susceptible to contamination with viruses and prions ("mad cow disease"). For producer and consumer peace of mind, there exists a demand for leather products that do not present these risks.

[0007] Natural leather is generally a durable and flexible material created by processing rawhide and skin of an animal, such as cattle hides. This processing typically involves three main parts: preparatory stages, tanning, and retanning. Leather may also be surface coated or embossed.

[0008] Numerous ways are known to prepare a skin or hide and convert it to leather. These include salting or refrigerating a hide or skin to preserve it; soaking or rehydrating the hide in an aqueous solution that contains surfactants or other chemicals to remove salt, dirt, debris, blood, and excess fat; defleshing or removing subcutaneous material from the hide; dehairing or unhairing the hide remove most of the hair; liming the hide to loosen fibers and open up collagen bundles allowing it to absorb chemicals; splitting the hide into two or more layers; deliming the hide to remove alkali and lower its pH; bating the hide to complete the deliming process and smooth the grain; degreasing to remove excess fats; frizzing; bleaching; pickling by altering the pH; or depickling.

[0009] Once the preparatory stages are complete, the leather is tanned. Leather is tanned to increase its durability compared to untreated hide. Tanning converts proteins in the hide or skin into a stable material that will not putrefy while allowing the leather material to remain flexible. During tanning, the skin structure may be stabilized in an "open" form by reacting some of the collagen with complex ions of chromium or other tanning agents. Depending on the compounds used, the color and texture of the leather may change.

[0010] Tanning is generally understood to be the process of treating the skins of animals to produce leather. Tanning may be performed in any number of well-understood ways, including by contacting a skin or hide with a vegetable tanning agent, chromium compound, aldehyde, syntan, synthetic, semisynthetic or natural resin or polymer, or/and tanning natural oil or modified oil. Vegetable tannins include pyrogallol- or pyrocatechin-based tannins, such as valonea, mimosa, ten, tara, oak, pinewood, sumach, quebracho and chestnut tannins; chromium tanning agents include chromium salts like chromium sulfate; aldehyde tanning agents include glutaraldehyde and oxazolidine compounds, syntans include aromatic polymers, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, copolymers of maleic anhydride and styrene, condensation products of formaldehyde with melamine or dicyandiamide, lignins and natural flours.

[0011] Chromium is the most commonly used tanning material. The pH of the skin/hide may be adjusted (e.g., lowered, e.g. to pH 2.8-3.2) to allow penetration of the tanning agent; following penetration the pH may be raised to fix the tanning agent ("basification" to a slightly higher level, e.g., pH 3.8-4.2 for chrome).

[0012] After tanning, a leather may be retanned. Retanning refers to the post-tanning treatment that can include coloring (dying), thinning, drying or hydrating, and the like. Examples of retanning techniques include: tanning, wetting (rehydrating), sammying (drying), neutralization (adjusting pH to a less acidic or alkaline state), dyeing, fat liquoring, fixation of unbound chemicals, setting, conditioning, softening, buffing, etc.

[0013] A tanned leather product may be mechanically or chemically finished. Mechanical finishing can polish the leather to yield a shiny surface, iron and plate a leather to have a flat, smooth surface, emboss a leather to provide a three dimensional print or pattern, or tumble a leather to provide a more evident grain and smooth surface. Chemical finishing may involve the application of a film, a natural or synthetic coating, or other leather treatment. These may be applied, for example, by spraying, curtain-coating or roller coating.

[0014] In animal hide, variations in fibrous collagen organization are observed in animals of different ages or species. These differences affect the physical properties of hides and differences in leather produced from the hides. Variations in collagen organization also occur through the thickness of the hide. The top grain side of hide is composed of a fine network of collagen fibrils while deeper sections (corium) are composed of larger fiber bundles (FIG. 2). The smaller fibril organization of the grain layer gives rise to a soft and smooth leather aesthetic while the larger fiber bundle organization of deeper regions gives rise to a rough and course leather aesthetic.

[0015] The porous, fibrous organization of collagen in a hide allows applied molecules to penetrate, stabilize, and lubricate it during leather tanning. The combination of the innate collagen organization in hide and the modifications achieved through tanning give rise to the desirable strength, drape and aesthetic properties of leather.

[0016] The top grain surface of leather is often regarded as the most desirable due to its smoothness and soft texture. This leather grain contains a highly porous network of organized collagen fibrils. Endogenous collagen fibrils are organized to have lacunar regions and overlapping regions; see the hierarchical organization of collagen depicted by FIG. 1. The strengths, microscale porosity, and density of fibrils in a top grain leather allow tanning or fatliquoring agents to penetrate it, thus stabilizing and lubricating the collagen fibrils, producing a soft, smooth and strong leather that people desire.

[0017] Leather hides can be split to obtain leather that is mostly top grain. The split hide can be further abraded to reduce the coarser grained corium on the split side, but there is always some residual corium and associated rough appearance. In order to produce leather with smooth grain on both sides, it is necessary to combine two pieces of grain, corium side facing corium side and either sew them together or laminate them with adhesives with the smooth top grain sides facing outward. There is a demand for a leather product that has a smooth, top grain-like surface on both its sides, because this would avoid the need for splitting, and sewing or laminating two split leather pieces together.

[0018] Control of the final properties of leather is limited by the natural variation in collagen structure between different animal hides. For example, the relative thickness of grain to corium in goat hide is significantly higher than that in kangaroo hide. In addition, the weave angle of collagen fiber bundles in kangaroo corium are much more parallel to the surface of the hide, while fiber bundles in bovine corium are oriented in both parallel and perpendicular orientations to the surface of the hide. Further, the density of fiber bundles varies within each hide depending on their anatomical location . Hide taken from butt, belly, shoulder, and neck can have different compositions and properties. The age of an animal also affects the composition of its hide, for example, juvenile bovine hide contains smaller diameter fibers than the larger fiber bundles found in adult bovine hide.

[0019] The final properties of leather can be controlled to some extent through the incorporation of stabilizing and lubricating molecules into the hide or skin during tanning and retanning, however, the selection of these molecules is limited by the need to penetrate the dense structure of the skin or hide. Particles as large as several microns in diameter have been incorporated into leather for enhanced lubrication; however, application of these particles is limited to hides with the largest pore sizes. Uniformly distributing the particles throughout the hide presents many challenges.

[0020] Collagen. Collagen is a component of leather. Skin, or animal hide, contains significant amounts of collagen, a fibrous protein. Collagen is a generic term for a family of at least 28 distinct collagen types; animal skin is typically Type I collagen, although other types of collagen can be used in forming leather including type III collagen.

[0021] Collagens are characterized by a repeating triplet of amino acids, -(Gly-X-Y)n-and approximately one-third of the amino acid residues in collagen are glycine. X is often proline and Y is often hydroxyproline, though there may be up to 400 possible Gly-X-Y triplets. Different animals may produce different amino acid compositions of the collagen, which may result in different properties and in differences in the resulting leather.

[0022] The structure of collagen can consist of three intertwined peptide chains of differing lengths. Collagen triple helices (or monomers) may be produced from alpha-chains of about 1,050 amino acids long, so that the triple helix takes the form of a rod of about approximately 300 nm long, with a diameter of approximately 1.5 nm.

[0023] In the production of extracellular matrix by fibroblast skin cells, triple helix monomers may be synthesized and the monomers may self-assemble into a fibrous form. These triple helices are held together by electrostatic interactions including salt bridging, hydrogen bonding, Van der Waals interactions, dipole-dipole forces, polarization forces, hydrophobic interactions, and/or covalent bonding. Triple helices can be bound together in bundles called fibrils, and fibrils can further assemble to create fibers and fiber bundles (FIG. 1).

[0024] Fibrils have a characteristic banded appearance due to the staggered overlap of collagen monomers. The distance between bands is approximately 67 nm for Type I collagen. Fibrils and fibers typically branch and interact with each other throughout a layer of skin. Variations of the organization or crosslinking of fibrils and fibers may provide strength to the material.

[0025] Fibers may have a range of diameters depending on the type of animal hide. In addition to type I collagen, skin (hides) may include other types of collagen as well, including type III collagen (reticulin), type IV collagen, and type VII collagen.

[0026] Various types of collagen exist throughout the mammalian body. For example, besides being the main component of skin and animal hide, Type I collagen also exists in cartilage, tendon, vascular ligature, organs, muscle, and the organic portion of bone. Successful efforts have been made to isolate collagen from various regions of the mammalian body in addition to the animal skin or hide. Decades ago, researchers found that at neutral pH, acid-solubilized collagen self-assembled into fibrils composed of the same cross-striated patterns observed in native tissue; Schmitt F.O. J. Cell. Comp Physiol. 1942;20:11). This led to use of collagen in tissue engineering and a variety of biomedical applications. In more recent years, collagen has been harvested from bacteria and yeast using recombinant techniques.

[0027] Regardless of the type of collagen, all are formed and stabilized through a combination of physical and chemical interactions including electrostatic interactions including salt bridging, hydrogen bonding, Van der Waals interactions, dipole-dipole forces, polarization forces, hydrophobic interactions, and covalent bonding often catalyzed by enzymatic reactions. For Type I collagen fibrils, fibers, and fiber bundles, its complex assembly is achieved in vivo during development and is critical in providing mechanical support to the tissue while allowing for cellular motility and nutrient transport. Various distinct collagen types have been identified in vertebrates. These include bovine, ovine, porcine, chicken, and human collagens.

[0028] Generally, the collagen types are numbered by Roman numerals, and the chains found in each collagen type are identified by Arabic numerals. Detailed descriptions of structure and biological functions of the various different types of naturally occurring collagens are available in the art; see, e.g., Ayad et al. (1998) The Extracellular Matrix Facts Book, Academic Press, San Diego, CA; Burgeson, R E., and Nimmi (1992) "Collagen types: Molecular Structure and Tissue Distribution" in Clin. Orthop. 282:250-272; Kielty, C. M. et al. (1993) "The Collagen Family: Structure, Assembly And Organization In The Extracellular Matrix," Connective Tissue And Its Heritable Disorders, Molecular Genetics, And Medical Aspects, Royce, P. M. and B. Steinmann eds., Wiley-Liss, NY, pp. 103-147; and Prockop, D.J- and K.I. Kivirikko (1995) "Collagens: Molecular Biology, Diseases, and Potentials for Therapy," Annu.Rev. Biochem., 64:403-434.)

[0029] Type I collagen is the major fibrillar collagen of bone and skin comprising approximately 80-90% of an organism's total collagen. Type I collagen is the major structural macromolecule present in the extracellular matrix of multicellular organisms and comprises approximately 20% of total protein mass. Type I collagen is a heterotrimeric molecule comprising two α1(I) chains and one α2(I) chain, encoded by the COL1A1 and COL1A2 genes, respectively. Other collagen types are less abundant than type I collagen, and exhibit different distribution patterns. For example, type II collagen is the predominant collagen in cartilage and vitreous humor, while type III collagen is found at high levels in blood vessels and to a lesser extent in skin.

[0030] Type II collagen is a homotrimeric collagen comprising three identical al(II) chains encoded by the COL2A1 gene. Purified type II collagen may be prepared from tissues by, methods known in the art, for example, by procedures described in Miller and Rhodes (1982) Methods In Enzymology 82:33-64.

[0031] Type III collagen is a major fibrillar collagen found in skin and vascular tissues. Type III collagen is a homotrimeric collagen comprising three identical α1(III) chains encoded by the COL3A1 gene. Methods for purifying type III collagen from tissues can be found in, for example, Byers et al. (1974) Biochemistry 13:5243-5248; and Miller and Rhodes, supra.

[0032] Type IV collagen is found in basement membranes in the form of sheets rather than fibrils. Most commonly, type IV collagen contains two α1(IV) chains and one α2(IV) chain. The particular chains comprising type IV collagen are tissue-specific. Type IV collagen may be purified using, for example, the procedures described in Furuto and Miller (1987) Methods in Enzymology, 144:41-61, Academic Press.

[0033] Type V collagen is a fibrillar collagen found in, primarily, bones, tendon, cornea, skin, and blood vessels. Type V collagen exists in both homotrimeric and heterotrimeric forms. One form of type V collagen is a heterotrimer of two α1(V) chains and one α2(V) chain. Another form of type V collagen is a heterotrimer of α1(V), α2(V), and α3(V) chains. A further form of type V collagen is a homotrimer of α1(V). Methods for isolating type V collagen from natural sources can be found, for example, in Elstow and Weiss (1983) Collagen Rel. Res. 3:181-193, and Abedin et al. (1982) Biosci. Rep. 2:493-502.

[0034] Type VI collagen has a small triple helical region and two large non-collagenous remainder portions. Type VI collagen is a heterotrimer comprising α1(VI), α2(VI), and α3(VI) chains. Type VI collagen is found in many connective tissues. Descriptions of how to purify type VI collagen from natural sources can be found, for example, in Wu et al. (1987) Biochem. J. 248:373-381, and Kielty et al. (1991) J. Cell Sci. 99:797-807.

[0035] Type VII collagen is a fibrillar collagen found in particular epithelial tissues. Type VII collagen is a homotrimeric molecule of three α1(VII) chains. Descriptions of how to purify type VII collagen from tissue can be found in, for example, Lunstrum et al. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261:9042-9048, and Bentz et al. (1983) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 80:3168-3172.Type VIII collagen can be found in Descemet's membrane in the cornea. Type VIII collagen is a heterotrimer comprising two α1(VIII) chains and one α2(VIII) chain, although other chain compositions have been reported. Methods for the purification of type VIII collagen from nature can be found, for example, in Benya and Padilla (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261:4160-4169, and Kapoor et al. (1986) Biochemistry 25:3930-3937.

[0036] Type IX collagen is a fibril-associated collagen found in cartilage and vitreous humor. Type IX collagen is a heterotrimeric molecule comprising α1(IX), α2(IX), and α3 (IX) chains. Type IX collagen has been classified as a FACIT (Fibril Associated Collagens with Interrupted Triple Helices) collagen, possessing several triple helical domains separated by non-triple helical domains. Procedures for purifying type IX collagen can be found, for example, in Duance, et al. (1984) Biochem. J. 221:885-889; Ayad et al. (1989) Biochem. J. 262:753-761; and Grant et al. (1988) The Control of Tissue Damage, Glauert, A. M., ed., Elsevier Science Publishers, Amsterdam, pp. 3-28.

[0037] Type X collagen is a homotrimeric compound of α1(X) chains. Type X collagen has been isolated from, for example, hypertrophic cartilage found in growth plates; see, e.g., Apte et al. (1992) Eur J Biochem 206 (1):217-24.

[0038] Type XI collagen can be found in cartilaginous tissues associated with type II and type IX collagens, and in other locations in the body. Type XI collagen is a heterotrimeric molecule comprising α1(XI), α2(XI), and α3(XI) chains. Methods for purifying type XI collagen can be found, for example, in Grant et al., supra.

[0039] Type XII collagen is a FACIT collagen found primarily in association with type I collagen. Type XII collagen is a homotrimeric molecule comprising three α1(XII) chains. Methods for purifying type XII collagen and variants thereof can be found, for example, in Dublet et al. (1989) J. Biol. Chem. 264:13150-13156; Lunstrum et al. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267:20087-20092; and Watt et al. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267:20093-20099.

[0040] Type XIII is a non-fibrillar collagen found, for example, in skin, intestine, bone, cartilage, and striated muscle. A detailed description of type XIII collagen may be found, for example, in Juvonen et al. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267: 24700-24707.

[0041] Type XIV is a FACIT collagen characterized as a homotrimeric molecule comprising α1(XIV) chains. Methods for isolating type XIV collagen can be found, for example, in Aubert-Foucher et al. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267:15759-15764,and Watt et al., supra.

[0042] Type XV collagen is homologous in structure to type XVIII collagen. Information about the structure and isolation of natural type XV collagen can be found, for example, in Myers et al. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:10144-10148; Huebner et al. (1992) Genomics 14:220-224; Kivirikko et al. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269:4773-4779; and Muragaki, J. (1994) Biol. Chem. 264:4042-4046.

[0043] Type XVI collagen is a fibril-associated collagen, found, for example, in skin, lung fibroblast, and keratinocytes. Information on the structure of type XVI collagen and the gene encoding type XVI collagen can be found, for example, in Pan et al. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:6565-6569; and Yamaguchi et al. (1992) J. Biochem. 112:856-863.

[0044] Type XVII collagen is a hemidesmosal transmembrane collagen, also known at the bullous pemphigoid antigen. Information on the structure of type XVII collagen and the gene encoding type XVII collagen can be found, for example, in Li et al. (1993) J. Biol. Chem. 268(12):8825-8834; and McGrath et al. (1995) Nat. Genet. 11(1):83-86.

[0045] Type XVIII collagen is similar in structure to type XV collagen and can be isolated from the liver. Descriptions of the structures and isolation of type XVIII collagen from natural sources can be found, for example, in Rehn and Pihlajaniemi (1994) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 91:4234-4238; Oh et al. (1994) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 91:4229-4233; Rehn et al. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269:13924-13935; and Oh et al. (1994) Genomics 19:494-499.

[0046] Type XIX collagen is believed to be another member of the FACIT collagen family, and has been found in mRNA isolated from rhabdomyosarcoma cells. Descriptions of the structures and isolation of type XIX collagen can be found, for example, in Inoguchi et al. (1995) J. Biochem. 117:137-146; Yoshioka et al. (1992) Genomics 13:884-886; and Myers et al., J. Biol. Chem. 289:18549-18557 (1994).

[0047] Type XX collagen is a newly found member of the FACIT collagenous family, and has been identified in chick cornea. (See, e.g., Gordon et al. (1999) FASEB Journal 13:A1119; and Gordon et al. (1998), IOVS 39:S1128.)

[0048] Any type of collagen, truncated collagen, unmodified or post-translationally modified, or amino acid sequence-modified collagen that can be fibrillated and crosslinked by the methods described herein can be used to produce a biofabricated material or biofabricated leather. Biofabricated leather may contain a substantially homogenous collagen, such as only Type I or Type III collagen or may contain mixtures of 2, 3, 4 or more different kinds of collagens.

Recombinant Collagen.



[0049] Recombinant expression of collagen and collagen-like proteins is known from Bell, EP 1232182B1, Bovine collagen and method for producing recombinant gelatin; Olsen, et al., U.S. Patent No. 6,428,978, Methods for the production of gelatin and full-length triple helical collagen in recombinant cells; VanHeerde, et al., U.S. Patent No. 8,188,230, Method for recombinant microorganism expression and isolation of collagen-like polypeptides. Such recombinant collagens have not been used to produce leather.

[0050] Prokaryotic expression. In prokaryotic systems, such as bacterial systems, a number of expression vectors may be advantageously selected depending upon the use intended for the expressed polypeptide. For example, when large quantities of the animal collagens and gelatins of the disclosure are to be produced, such as for the generation of antibodies, vectors which direct the expression of high levels of fusion protein products that are readily purified may be desirable. Such vectors include, but are not limited to, the E. coli expression vector pUR278 (Ruther et al. (1983) EMBO J. 2:1791), in which the coding sequence may be ligated into the vector in frame with the lac Z coding region so that a hybrid AS-lacZ protein is produced; pIN vectors (Inouye et al. (1985) Nucleic Acids Res. 13:3101-3109 and Van Heeke et al. (1989) J. Biol. Chem. 264:5503-5509); and the like. pGEX vectors may also be used to express foreign polypeptides as fusion proteins with glutathione S-transferase (GST). In general, such fusion proteins are soluble and can easily be purified from lysed cells by adsorption to glutathione-agarose beads followed by elution in the presence of free glutathione. The pGEX vectors are designed to include thrombin or factor Xa protease cleavage sites so that the cloned polypeptide of interest can be released from the GST moiety. A recombinant collagen may comprise collagen molecules that have not been post-translationally modified, e.g., not glycosylated or hydroxylated, or may comprise one or more post-translational modifications, for example, modifications that facilitate fibrillation and formation of unbundled and randomly oriented fibrils of collagen molecules.

[0051] A recombinant collagen molecule can comprise a fragment of the amino acid sequence of a native collagen molecule that can form trimeric collagen fibrils or a modified collagen molecule or truncated collagen molecule having an amino acid sequence at least 70, 80, 90, 95, 96, 97, 98, or 99% identical or similar to a native collagen amino acid sequence (or to a fibril forming region thereof or to a segment substantially comprising [Gly-X-Y]n), such as those of bovine collagen, described by SEQ ID NOS: 1, 2 or 3 and by amino acid sequences of Col1A1, Col1A2, and Col1A3, described by Accession Nos. NP_001029211.1 (https://_www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/protein/77404252, last accessed February 9, 2017), NP_776945.1 (https://_www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/protein/27806257 last accessed February 9, 2017) and NP_001070299.1 (https://_www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/protein/116003881 last accessed February 9, 2017) (These links have been inactivated by inclusion of an underline after the double slash.)

[0052] Such recombinant or modified collagen molecules will generally comprise the repeated -(Gly-X-Y)n- sequence described herein.

[0053] BLASTN may be used to identify a polynucleotide sequence having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 87.5%, 90%, 92.5%, 95%, 97.5%, 98%, or 99% sequence identity to a reference polynucleotide such as a polynucleotide encoding a collagen polypeptide or encoding the amino acid sequences of SEQ ID NOS: 1, 2 or 3. A representative BLASTN setting optimized to find highly similar sequences uses an Expect Threshold of 10 and a Wordsize of 28, max matches in query range of 0, match/mismatch scores of 1/-2, and linear gap cost. Low complexity regions may be filtered or masked. Default settings of a Standard Nucleotide BLAST are described by https://_blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Blast.cgi?PROGRAM=blastn&PAGE_TYPE=BlastSearch&LINK_ LOC=blasthome (last accessed January 27, 2017).

[0054] BLASTP can be used to identify an amino acid sequence having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 87.5%, 90%, 92.5%, 95%, 97.5%, 98%, or 99% sequence identity, or similarity to a reference amino acid, such as a collagen amino acid sequence, using a similarity matrix such as BLOSUM45, BLOSUM62 or BLOSUM80 where BLOSUM45 can be used for closely related sequences, BLOSUM62 for midrange sequences, and BLOSUM80 for more distantly related sequences. Unless otherwise indicated a similarity score will be based on use of BLOSUM62. When BLASTP is used, the percent similarity is based on the BLASTP positives score and the percent sequence identity is based on the BLASTP identities score. BLASTP "Identities" shows the number and fraction of total residues in the high scoring sequence pairs which are identical; and BLASTP "Positives" shows the number and fraction of residues for which the alignment scores have positive values and which are similar to each other. Amino acid sequences having these degrees of identity or similarity or any intermediate degree of identity or similarity to the amino acid sequences disclosed herein are contemplated and encompassed by this disclosure. A representative BLASTP setting that uses an Expect Threshold of 10, a Word Size of 3, BLOSUM 62 as a matrix, and Gap Penalty of 11 (Existence) and 1 (Extension) and a conditional compositional score matrix adjustment. Other default settings for BLASTP are described by the disclosure available at: https://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Blast.cgi?PROGRAM=blastp&PAGE_TYPE=BlastSearch&LINK_L OC=blasthome (last accessed January 27, 2017).

[0055] Yeast expression. In one embodiment, collagen molecules are produced in a yeast expression system. In yeast, a number of vectors containing constitutive or inducible promoters known in the art may be used; Ausubel et al., supra, Vol. 2, Chapter 13; Grant et al. (1987) Expression and Secretion Vectors for Yeast, in Methods in Enzymology, Ed. Wu & Grossman, Acad. Press, N.Y. 153:516-544; Glover (1986) DNA Cloning, Vol. II, IRL Press, Wash., D.C., Ch. 3; Bitter (1987) Heterologous Gene Expression in Yeast, in Methods in Enzymology, Eds. Berger & Kimmel, Acad. Press, N.Y. 152:673-684; and The Molecular Biology of the Yeast Saccharomyces, Eds. Strathern et al., Cold Spring Harbor Press, Vols. I and II (1982).

[0056] Collagen can be expressed using host cells, for example, from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This particular yeast can be used with any of a large number of expression vectors. Commonly employed expression vectors are shuttle vectors containing the 2P origin of replication for propagation in yeast and the Col E1 origin for E. coli, for efficient transcription of the foreign gene. A typical example of such vectors based on 2P plasmids is pWYG4, which has the 2P ORI-STB elements, the GAL1-10 promoter, and the 2P D gene terminator. In this vector, an Ncol cloning site is used to insert the gene for the polypeptide to be expressed, and to provide the ATG start codon. Another expression vector is pWYG7L, which has intact 2αORI, STB, REP1 and REP2, and the GAL1-10 promoter, and uses the FLP terminator. In this vector, the encoding polynucleotide is inserted in the polylinker with its 5' ends at a BamHI or Ncol site. The vector containing the inserted polynucleotide is transformed into S. cerevisiae either after removal of the cell wall to produce spheroplasts that take up DNA on treatment with calcium and polyethylene glycol or by treatment of intact cells with lithium ions.

[0057] Alternatively, DNA can be introduced by electroporation. Transformants can be selected, for example, using host yeast cells that are auxotrophic for leucine, tryptophan, uracil, or histidine together with selectable marker genes such as LEU2, TRP1, URA3, HIS3, or LEU2-D.

[0058] In one embodiment, polynucleotides encoding collagen are introduced into host cells from the yeast Pichia. Species of non-Saccharomyces yeast such as Pichia pastoris appear to have special advantages in producing high yields of recombinant protein in scaled up procedures. Additionally, a Pichia expression kit is available from Invitrogen Corporation (San Diego, CA).

[0059] There are a number of methanol responsive genes in methylotrophic yeasts such as Pichia pastoris, the expression of each being controlled by methanol responsive regulatory regions, also referred to as promoters. Any of such methanol responsive promoters are suitable for use in the practice of the present invention. Examples of specific regulatory regions include the AOX1 promoter, the AOX2 promoter, the dihydroxyacetone synthase (DAS), the P40 promoter, and the promoter for the catalase gene from P. pastoris, etc.

[0060] In other embodiments, the methylotrophic yeast Hansenula polymorpha is used. Growth on methanol results in the induction of key enzymes of the methanol metabolism, such as MOX (methanol oxidase), DAS (dihydroxyacetone synthase), and FMHD (formate dehydrogenase). These enzymes can constitute up to 30-40% of the total cell protein. The genes encoding MOX, DAS, and FMDH production are controlled by strong promoters induced by growth on methanol and repressed by growth on glucose. Any or all three of these promoters may be used to obtain high-level expression of heterologous genes in H. polymorpha. Therefore, in one aspect, a polynucleotide encoding animal collagen or fragments or variants thereof is cloned into an expression vector under the control of an inducible H. polymorpha promoter. If secretion of the product is desired, a polynucleotide encoding a signal sequence for secretion in yeast is fused in frame with the polynucleotide. In a further embodiment, the expression vector preferably contains an auxotrophic marker gene, such as URA3 or LEU2, which may be used to complement the deficiency of an auxotrophic host.

[0061] The expression vector is then used to transform H. polymorpha host cells using techniques known to those of skill in the art. A useful feature of H. polymorpha transformation is the spontaneous integration of up to 100 copies of the expression vector into the genome. In most cases, the integrated polynucleotide forms multimers exhibiting a head-to-tail arrangement. The integrated foreign polynucleotide has been shown to be mitotically stable in several recombinant strains, even under non-selective conditions. This phenomena of high copy integration further ads to the high productivity potential of the system.

[0062] Fungal Expression. Filamentous fungi may also be used to produce the present polypeptides. Vectors for expressing and/or secreting recombinant proteins in filamentous fungi are well known, and one of skill in the art could use these vectors to express the recombinant animal collagens of the present invention.

[0063] Plant Expression. In one aspect, an animal collagen is produced in a plant or plant cells. In cases where plant expression vectors are used, the expression of sequences encoding the collagens of the invention may be driven by any of a number of promoters. For example, viral promoters such as the 35S RNA and 19S RNA promoters of CaMV (Brisson et al. (1984) Nature 310:511-514), or the coat protein promoter of TMV (Takamatsu et al. (1987) EMBO J. 6:307-311) may be used; alternatively, plant promoters such as the small subunit of RUBISCO (Coruzzi et al. (1984) EMBO J. 3:1671-1680; Broglie et al. (1984) Science 224:838-843) or heat shock promoters, e.g., soybean hsp17.5-E or hsp17.3-B (Gurley et al. (1986) Mol. Cell. Biol. 6:559-565) may be used. These constructs can be introduced into plant cells by a variety of methods known to those of skill in the art, such as by using Ti plasmids, Ri plasmids, plant virus vectors, direct DNA transformation, microinjection, electroporation, etc. For reviews of such techniques see, for example, Weissbach & Weissbach, Methods for Plant Molecular Biology, Academic Press, NY, Section VIII, pp. 421-463 (1988); Grierson & Corey, Plant Molecular Biology, 2d Ed., Blackie, London, Ch. 7-9 (1988); Transgenic Plants: A Production System for Industrial and Pharmaceutical Proteins, Owen and Pen eds., John Wiliey & Sons, 1996; Transgenic Plants, Galun and Breiman eds, Imperial College Press, 1997; and Applied Plant Biotechnology, Chopra, Malik, and Bhat eds., Science Publishers, Inc., 1999.

[0064] Plant cells do not naturally produce sufficient amounts of post-translational enzymes to efficiently produce stable collagen. Therefore, where hydroxylation is desired, plant cells used to express animal collagens are supplemented with the necessary post-translational enzymes to sufficiently produce stable collagen. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the post-translational enzyme is prolyl 4-hydroxylase.

[0065] Methods of producing the present animal collagens in plant systems may be achieved by providing a biomass from plants or plant cells, wherein the plants or plant cells comprise at least one coding sequence is operably linked to a promoter to effect the expression of the polypeptide, and the polypeptide is then extracted from the biomass. Alternatively, the polypeptide can be non-extracted, e.g., expressed into the endosperm.

[0066] Plant expression vectors and reporter genes are generally known in the art; see, e.g., Gruber et al. (1993) in Methods of Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, CRC Press. Typically, the expression vector comprises a nucleic acid construct generated, for example, recombinantly or synthetically, and comprising a promoter that functions in a plant cell, wherein such promoter is operably linked to a nucleic acid sequence encoding an animal collagen or fragments or variants thereof, or a post-translational enzyme important to the biosynthesis of collagen.

[0067] Promoters drive the level of protein expression in plants. To produce a desired level of protein expression in plants, expression may be under the direction of a plant promoter. Promoters suitable for use in accordance with the present invention are generally available in the art; see, e.g., PCT Publication No. WO 91/19806. Examples of promoters that may be used in accordance with the present invention include non-constitutive promoters or constitutive promoters. These promoters include, but are not limited to, the promoter for the small subunit of ribulose-1,5-bis-phosphate carboxylase; promoters from tumor-inducing plasmids of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, such as the RUBISCO nopaline synthase (NOS) and octopine synthase promoters; bacterial T-DNA promoters such as mas and ocs promoters; and viral promoters such as the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 19S and 35S promoters or the figwort mosaic virus 35S promoter.

[0068] The polynucleotide sequences of the present disclosure can be placed under the transcriptional control of a constitutive promoter, directing expression of the collagen or post-translational enzyme in most tissues of a plant. In one embodiment, the polynucleotide sequence is under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter. The double stranded caulimorvirus family has provided the single most important promoter expression for transgene expression in plants, in particular, the 35S promoter; see, e.g., Kay et al. (1987) Science 236:1299. Additional promoters from this family such as the figwort mosaic virus promoter, etc., have been described in the art, and may also be used; see, e.g., Sanger et al. (1990) Plant Mol. Biol. 14:433-443; Medberry et al. (1992) Plant Cell 4:195-192; and Yin and Beachy (1995) Plant J. 7:969-980.

[0069] The promoters used in polynucleotide constructs for expressing collagen may be modified, if desired, to affect their control characteristics. For example, the CaMV promoter may be ligated to the portion of the RUBISCO gene that represses the expression of RUBISCO in the absence of light, to create a promoter which is active in leaves, but not in roots. The resulting chimeric promoter may be used as described herein.

[0070] Constitutive plant promoters having general expression properties known in the art may be used with the expression vectors of the present invention. These promoters are abundantly expressed in most plant tissues and include, for example, the actin promoter and the ubiquitin promoter; see, e.g., McElroy et al. (1990) Plant Cell 2:163-171; and Christensen et al. (1992) Plant Mol. Biol. 18:675-689.

[0071] Alternatively, the polypeptide of the present disclosure may be expressed in a specific tissue, cell type, or under more precise environmental conditions or developmental control. Promoters directing expression in these instances are known as inducible promoters. In the case where a tissue-specific promoter is used, protein expression is particularly high in the tissue from which extraction of the protein is desired. Depending on the desired tissue, expression may be targeted to the endosperm, aleurone layer, embryo (or its parts as scutellum and cotyledons), pericarp, stem, leaves tubers, roots, etc. Examples of known tissue-specific promoters include the tuber-directed class I patatin promoter, the promoters associated with potato tuber ADPGPP genes, the soybean promoter of β-conglycinin (7S protein) which drives seed-directed transcription, and seed-directed promoters from the zein genes of maize endosperm; see, e.g., Bevan et al. (1986) Nucleic Acids Res. 14: 4625-38; Muller et al. (1990) Mol. Gen. Genet. 224:136-46; Bray (1987) Planta 172: 364-370; and Pedersen et al. (1982) Cell 29:1015-26.

[0072] Collagen polypeptides can be produced in seed by way of seed-based production techniques using, for example, canola, corn, soybeans, rice and barley seed. In such a process, for example, the product is recovered during seed germination; see, e.g., PCT Publication Numbers WO 9940210; WO 9916890; WO 9907206;U.S. Patent No. 5,866,121; U.S. Patent No. 5,792,933; and all references cited therein. Promoters that may be used to direct the expression of the polypeptides may be heterologous or non-heterologous. These promoters can also be used to drive expression of antisense nucleic acids to reduce, increase, or alter concentration and composition of the present animal collagens in a desired tissue.

[0073] Other modifications that may be made to increase and/or maximize transcription of the present polypeptides in a plant or plant cell are standard and known to those in the art. For example a vector comprising a polynucleotide sequence encoding a recombinant animal collagen, or a fragment or variant thereof, operably linked to a promoter may further comprise at least one factor that modifies the transcription rate of collagen or related post-translational enzymes, including, but not limited to, peptide export signal sequence, codon usage, introns, polyadenylation, and transcription termination sites. Methods of modifying constructs to increase expression levels in plants are generally known in the art; see, e.g. Rogers et al. (1985) J. Biol. Chem. 260:3731; and Cornejo et al. (1993) Plant Mol Biol 23:567-58. In engineering a plant system that affects the rate of transcription of the present collagens and related post-translational enzymes, various factors known in the art, including regulatory sequences such as positively or negatively acting sequences, enhancers and silencers, as well as chromatin structure can affect the rate of transcription in plants. At least one of these factors may be utilized when expressing a recombinant animal collagen, including but not limited to the collagen types described above.

[0074] The vectors comprising the present polynucleotides will typically comprise a marker gene which confers a selectable phenotype on plant cells. Usually, the selectable marker gene will encode antibiotic resistance, with suitable genes including at least one set of genes coding for resistance to the antibiotic spectinomycin, the streptomycin phophotransferase (SPT) gene coding for streptomycin resistance, the neomycin phophotransferase (NPTH) gene encoding kanamycin or geneticin resistance, the hygromycin resistance, genes coding for resistance to herbicides which act to inhibit the action of acetolactate synthase (ALS), in particular, the sulfonylurea-type herbicides; e.g., the acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene containing mutations leading to such resistance in particular the S4 and/or Hra mutations, genes coding for resistance to herbicides which act to inhibit action of glutamine synthase, such as phophinothricin or basta; e.g. the bar gene, or other similar genes known in the art. The bar gene encodes resistance to the herbicide basta, the nptll gene encodes resistance to the antibiotics kanamycin and geneticin, and the ALS gene encodes resistance to the herbicide chlorsulfuron.

[0075] Typical vectors useful for expression of foreign genes in plants are well known in the art, including, but not limited to, vectors derived from the tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. These vectors are plant integrating vectors that upon transformation, integrate a portion of the DNA into the genome of the host plant; see e.g., Rogers et al. (1987) Meth In Enzymol. 153:253-277; Schardl et al. (1987) Gene 61:1-11; and Berger et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 86:8402-8406.

[0076] Vectors comprising sequences encoding the present polypeptides and vectors comprising post-translational enzymes or subunits thereof may be co-introduced into the desired plant. Procedures for transforming plant cells are available in the art, for example, direct gene transfer, in vitro protoplast transformation, plant virus-mediated transformation, liposome-mediated transformation, microinjection, electroporation, Agrobacterium mediated transformation, and particle bombardment; see e.g., Paszkowski et al. (1984) EMBO J. 3:2717-2722; U.S. Patent No. 4,684,611; European Application No. 0 67 553; U.S. Patent No. 4,407,956; U.S. Patent No. 4,536,475; Crossway et al. (1986) Biotechniques 4:320-334; Riggs et al. (1986) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 83:5602-5606; Hinchee et al. (1988) Biotechnology 6:915-921; and U.S. Patent No. 4,945,050.) Standard methods for the transformation of, e.g., rice, wheat, corn, sorghum, and barley are described in the art; see, e.g., Christou et al. (1992) Trends in Biotechnology 10: 239 and Lee et al. (1991) Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA 88:6389. Wheat can be transformed by techniques similar to those employed for transforming corn or rice. Furthermore, Casas et al. (1993) Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA 90:11212, describe a method for transforming sorghum, while Wan et al. (1994) Plant Physiol. 104: 37, teach a method for transforming barley. Suitable methods for corn transformation are provided by Fromm et al. (1990) Bio/Technology 8:833 and by Gordon-Kamm et al., supra.

[0077] Additional methods that may be used to generate plants that produce animal collagens of the present disclosure are established in the art; see, e.g., U.S. Patent No. 5,959,091; U.S. Patent No. 5,859,347; U.S. Patent No.5,763,241; U.S. Patent No. 5,659,122; U.S. Patent No. 5,593,874; U.S. Patent No. 5,495,071; U.S. Patent No. 5,424,412; U.S. Patent No. 5,362,865; U.S. Patent No. 5,229,112; U.S. Patent No. 5,981,841; U.S. Patent No. 5,959,179; U.S. Patent No. 5,932,439; U.S. Patent No. 5,869,720; U.S. Patent No. 5,804,425; U.S. Patent No. 5,763,245; U.S. Patent No. 5,716,837; U.S. Patent No. 5,689,052; U.S. Patent No. 5,633,435; U.S. Patent No. 5,631,152; U.S. Patent No.5,627,061; U.S. Patent No. 5,602,321; U.S. Patent No. 5,589,612; U.S. Patent No. 5,510,253; U.S. Patent No. 5,503,999; U.S. Patent No. 5,378,619; U.S. Patent No. 5,349,124; U.S. Patent No. 5,304,730; U.S. Patent No. 5,185,253; U.S. Patent No. 4,970,168; European Publication No. EPA 00709462; European Publication No. EPA 00578627; European Publication No. EPA 00531273; European Publication No. EPA 00426641; PCT Publication No. WO 99/31248; PCT Publication No. WO 98/58069; PCT Publication No. WO 98/45457; PCT Publication No. WO 98/31812; PCT Publication No. WO 98/08962; PCT Publication No. WO 97/48814; PCT Publication No. WO 97/30582; and PCT Publication No. WO 9717459.

[0078] Insect Expression. Another alternative expression system for collagen is an insect system. Baculoviruses are very efficient expression vectors for the large scale production of various recombinant proteins in insect cells. The methods as described in Luckow et al. (1989) Virology 170:31-39 and Gruenwald, S. and Heitz, J. (1993) Baculovirus Expression Vector System: Procedures & Methods Manual, Pharmingen, San Diego, CA, can be employed to construct expression vectors containing a collagen coding sequence for the collagens of the invention and the appropriate transcriptional/translational control signals. For example, recombinant production of proteins can be achieved in insect cells, by infection of baculovirus vectors encoding the polypeptide. The production of recombinant collagen , collagen-like or collagenous polypeptides with stable triple helices can involve the co-infection of insect cells with three baculoviruses, one encoding the animal collagen to be expressed and one each encoding the α subunit and β subunit of prolyl 4-hydroxylase. This insect cell system allows for production of recombinant proteins in large quantities. In one such system, Autographa californica nuclear polyhidrosis virus (AcNPV) is used as a vector to express foreign genes. This virus grows in Spodoptera frugiperda cells. Coding sequences for collagen or collagen-like polypeptides may be cloned into non-essential regions (for example the polyhedron gene) of the virus and placed under control of an AcNPV promoter (for example, the polyhedron promoter). Successful insertion of a coding sequence will result in inactivation of the polyhedron gene and production of non-occluded recombinant virus; e.g., viruses lacking the proteinaceous coat coded for by the polyhedron gene. These recombinant viruses are then used to infect Spodoptera frugiperda cells in which the inserted gene is expressed; see, e.g., Smith et al. (1983) J. Virol. 46:584; and U.S. Patent No. 4,215,051. Further examples of this expression system may be found in, for example, Ausubel et al. above.

[0079] Animal Expression. In animal host cells, a number of expression systems may be utilized. In cases where an adenovirus is used as an expression vector, polynucleotide sequences encoding collagen or collagen-like polypeptides may be ligated to an adenovirus transcription/ translation control complex, e.g., the late promoter and tripartite leader sequence. This chimeric gene may then be inserted in the adenovirus genome by in vitro or in vivo recombination. Insertion in a non-essential region of the viral genome (e.g., region E1 or E3) will result in a recombinant virus that is viable and capable of expressing the encoded polypeptides in infected hosts; see, e.g., Logan & Shenk, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 81:3655-3659 (1984). Alternatively, the vaccinia 7.5 K promoter may be used; see, e.g., Mackett et al. (1982) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 79:7415-7419; Mackett et al. (1982) J. Virol. 49:857-864; and Panicali et al. (1982) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 79:4927-4931.

[0080] A preferred expression system in mammalian host cells is the Semliki Forest virus. Infection of mammalian host cells, for example, baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells can yield very high recombinant expression levels. Semliki Forest virus is a preferred expression system as the virus has a broad host range such that infection of mammalian cell lines will be possible. More specifically, Semliki Forest virus can be used in a wide range of hosts, as the system is not based on chromosomal integration, and thus provides an easier way of obtaining modifications of the recombinant animal collagens in studies aiming at identifying structure function relationships and testing the effects of various hybrid molecules. Methods for constructing Semliki Forest virus vectors for expression of exogenous proteins in mammalian host cells are described in, for example, Olkkonen et al. (1994) Methods Cell Biol 43:43-53.

[0081] Non-human transgenic animals may also be used to express the polypeptides of the present disclosure. Such systems can be constructed by operably linking the polynucleotide of the invention to a promoter, along with other required or optional regulatory sequences capable of effecting expression in mammary glands. Likewise, required or optional post-translational enzymes may be produced simultaneously in the target cells employing suitable expression systems. Methods of using non-human transgenic animals to recombinantly produce proteins are known in the art; see, e.g., U.S. Patent No. 4,736,866; U.S. Patent No. 5,824,838; U.S. Patent No. 5,487,992; and U.S. Patent No. 5,614,396.

[0082] Composite collagen fiber sheets. As shown in FIG. 1, triple helical collagen molecules associate into fibrils which in animal skin assemble into larger fibril bundles or collagen fibers. Prior methods of making collagen sheets used a mixture of ground animal skin or leather scraps and dissolved or suspended collagen. Such collagen fiber-containing products are described by EP0089029, U.S. Patent Nos. 2,934,446; 3,073,714; 3,122, 599; and 3,136,682. Highberger, et al., U.S. Patent No. 2,934,446 describes a method using a meat grinder to produce a slurry of calfskin hide or corium which is formed into a sheet, tanned and for forming interlocked collagen fiber masses by comminuting and dispersing animal skin in an acidic aqueous solution at 5°C and then raising the pH and temperature to precipitate collagen fibers to form a gel which is then dried. These sheets of collagen fiber masses make use of leather scraps and form sheets resembling leather. Highberger does not show that these leather sheets are suitable for commercial use. Tu, et al., U.S. Patent No. 3,073,714 discloses producing a sheet from an calfskin slurry containing 25% solids which is tanned with a vegetable tanning solution and treated with glycerin and oleic acid. These collagen fiber sheets are described as reproducing the internal arrangement of collagen fibers in natural skins and hides. Tu does not show that the leather sheets are compositionally or aesthetically suitable for use in a consumer product. Tu, et al., U.S. Patent No. 3,122,599 describes a leather-like sheet made from ground animal skin or leather which contains collagen fibers and soluble collagen as well as other components derived from the animal skin. Tu discloses treating this mixture with chromium, dehydrating it with acetone, and treating with oleic acid to produce a leather-like product containing collagen fiber masses. Tu does not show that the sheet is compositionally, physically or aesthetically suitable for use in a consumer product. Tu, et al., U.S. Patent No. 3,136,682 describes a process of making a leather-like material that contains a mixture of collagen fibers and a binder of water-soluble proteinaceous material derived from animal skin. It also describes the use of a chromium tanning agent and treatment with oleic acid. Tu describes a sheet of good appearance and feel, but does not show that it is suitable for incorporation into a consumer product. These products incorporate coarse, ground or digested collagen fibers.

[0083] Cultured leather products. These products generally comprise a plurality of layers containing collagen produced by culturing cells in vitro are described by Forgacs, et al., U.S. 2016/0097109 A1 and by Greene, U.S. Patent No. 9,428,817 B2. These products are produced in vitro by cultivation of cell explants or cultured collagen-producing cells. Such cells produce and process collagen into quaternary bundles of collagen fibrils and do not have the random, non-antistrophic structure of the collagen fibrils of the invention. Forgacs describes engineered animal skins, which may be shaped, to produce a leather product. Green describes a variety of products, such as footwear, apparel and luggage that may incorporate leather that is cultured in vitro. US 2013/0255003 describes producing collagen for leather-like products by growing bovine skin cells in culture. Other types of host cells have been utilized to produce collagen for medical implants or to produce gelatin. For example, United States Patent Application US 2004/0018592 describes a way to produce gelatin by recombinantly expressing bovine collagen in host cells, such as yeast.

[0084] Medical products. Networks of collagen have been produced in vitro as materials for biomedical applications. In those applications, monomers of the collagen triple helix are extracted from animal tissue, such as bovine dermis, either by acid treatment or treatment with protein degrading enzymes such as pepsin, to solubilize collagen from the tissue. Once purified, these solubilized collagens (often mixtures of monomers, dimers and trimers of the collagen triple helix) can be fibrillated into fibrils through a pH shift in aqueous buffers. Under the right conditions, the collagen monomers self-assemble into fibrils, and depending on their source and how they were isolated, the fibrils can physically crosslink to form a solid hydrogel. In addition, recombinant collagens and collagen-like proteins have been shown to fibrillate in vitro through similar adjustments in pH and salt concentration. Examples of such products for medical applications include a biodegradable collagen matrix made from a collagen slurry that self-assembles into macroscopic collagen fibers, U.S. Patent No. 9,539,363, and an organized array of collagen fibrils produced by use of external guidance structures or internal templates and the application of tension, U.S. Patent No. 9,518,106. Collagen products used in medicine, such as for tissue engineering or grafting, often aim to provide collagen in a form similar to that in a particular tissue being engineered or repaired. While fibrillation of soluble collagens and collagen-like proteins has been explored to produce collagen hydrogels for biomedical applications, this technology has not been successfully applied to the production of a material having the strength and aesthetic properties of natural leather.

[0085] Synthetic plastic-based leathers. Attempts to create synthetic leather have come up short in reproducing leather's unique set of functional and aesthetic properties. Examples of synthetic leather materials include Clarino, Naugahyde®, Corfam, and Alcantara, amongst others. They are made of various chemical and polymer ingredients, including polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, nitrocellulose coated cotton cloth, polyester, or other natural cloth or fiber materials coated with a synthetic polymer. These materials are assembled using a variety of techniques, often drawing from chemical and textile production approaches, including non-woven and advanced spinning processes. While many of these materials have found use in footwear, upholstery, and apparel applications, they have fallen short for luxury application, as they cannot match the breathability, performance, hand feel, or aesthetic properties that make leather so unique and beloved. To date, no alternative commercial leather-like materials have been made from a uniform network of collagen or collagen-like proteins. Synthetic plastic materials lack the chemical composition and structure of a collagen network that produces an acceptable leather aesthetic. Unlike, synthetics, the chemical composition of amino acid side groups along the collagen polypeptide chain, along with its organization into a strong yet porous, fibrous architecture allow stabilization and functionalization of the fibril network through crosslinking processes to produce the desirable strength, softness and aesthetic of leather.

[0086] While fibrillation of soluble collagens and collagen-like proteins has been explored to bind together ground or comminuted leather scraps or for the production of collagen hydrogels for biomedical applications, harnessing this phenomenon to produce a commercially acceptable leather-like material has not been achieved.

[0087] In view of the problems with prior art natural leathers, and composite, cultured, and synthetic, plastic-based leather products the inventors diligently pursued a way to provide a biofabricated leather having superior strength and uniformity and non-anisotropic properties that incorporated natural components found in leather.

[0088] Described herein are materials composed of collagen fibrils fibrillated in vitro that have leather-like properties imparted by crosslinking, dehydration and lubrication. Compared to tanned and fatliquored animal hides, these biofabricated materials can have structural, compositional and functional uniformity, for example, advantageous substantially non-anisotropic strength and other mechanical properties as well as a top grain like aesthetic on both their top and bottom surfaces.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0089] The invention is as defined in the claims. Among its embodiments, the invention is directed to a biofabricated material composed of a network of crosslinked and lubricated collagen fibrils, as recited in the claims. It may be produced from collagen isolated from an animal source or recombinant collagen. It can be produced from collagens that contain substantially no residues. It is substantially free of large bundles of collagen fibers. Preferably, it is substantially free of other non- hydroxylysine , non-3-hydroxyproline collagen components of leather, such as elastin. This material is composed of collagen which is also a major component of natural leather and is produced by a process of fibrillation of collagen molecules into fibrils, crosslinking and dehydrating the fibrils and lubricating the crosslinked fibrils. Unlike natural leathers, this biofabricated material exhibits non-anisotropic (not directionally dependent) physical properties, for example, a sheet of biofabricated material can have substantially the same elasticity or tensile strength when measured in different directions. Unlike natural leather, it has a uniform texture that facilitates uniform uptake of dyes and coatings. Aesthetically, it produces a uniform and consistent grain for ease of manufacturability. It can have substantially identical grain, texture and other aesthetic properties on both sides unlike natural leathers where the grain increases from one side (e.g., distal surface) to the other (proximal inner layers).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0090] 

FIG. 1 is a drawing showing the composition of collagen in a hierarchical fashion. Reference character (1) shows each triple helical collagen monomer and how they are assembled with respect to neighboring collagen monomers; (2) shows assembled collagen that makes up banded collagen fibrils; (3) shows the collagen fibrils at larger scale; (4) shows collagen fibrils aligned into fibers; and (5) shows bundles of collagen fibers.

FIG. 2A is a picture showing the composition of buffalo hide. The top grain layer and the corium layer underneath are shown and the relative degrees of higher order organization from collagen fibrils to collagen fiber bundles are indicated. The top grain layer is mostly composed of fine collagen fibrils while the corium layer is mostly composed of coarser collagen fibers and fiber bundles.

FIGS. 2B and 2C compare the textures and grains of the outer and inner surfaces of a leather depicting fine grain on one side and coarser corium on the other.

FIG. 3A is a scanning electron micrograph of the fibrillated collagen hydrogel showing a network of fine collagen fibrils.

FIG. 3B is a scanning electron micrograph of bovine corium showing coarser fiber bundles.

FIG. 4 is a transmission electron micrograph of a fibrillated collagen network or hydrogel showing fibril banding.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0091] "Biofabricated material" or "biofabricated leather" as used herein is a material produced from collagen or a collagen-like protein. It can be produced from non-human collagens such as bovine, buffalo, ox, dear, sheep, goat, or pig collagen, which may be isolated from a natural source like animal hide, by in vitro culture of mammalian or animal cells, recombinantly produced or chemically synthesized. It is not a conventional material or leather which is produced from animal skins. Methods for producing this biofabricated material or biofabricated leather are disclosed herein and usually involve fibrillating an isolated or purified solution or suspension of collagen molecules to produce collagen fibrils, crosslinking the fibrils, dehydrating the fibrils and lubricating the fibrils.

[0092] In contrast to natural leathers which exhibit heterogeneous internal collagen structures, a biofabricated material or biofabricated leather can exhibit a substantially uniform internal structure characterized by unbundled and randomly-oriented collagen fibrils throughout its volume.

[0093] The resulting biofabricated material may be used in any way that natural leather is used and may be grossly similar in appearance and feel to real leather, while having compositional, functional or aesthetic features that differentiate it from ordinary leather. For example, unlike natural leather, a biofabricated leather need not contain potentially allergenic non-collagen proteins or components found in a natural leather, a biofabricated leather may exhibit a similar flexibility and strength in all directions (non-anisotropy) due to substantial non-alignment of its collagen fibrils, and aesthetically may have a smooth grain texture on both sides. A biofabricated leather can exhibit uniformity of properties including uniform thickness and consistency, uniform distribution of lubricants, crosslinkers and dyes, uniform non-anisotropic strength, stretch, flexibility and resistance to piping (or the tendency for natural leather to separate or split parallel to a plane of a sheet). By selecting the content of collagen and processing conditions, biofabricated leather can be "tuned" to a particular thickness, consistency, flexibility, softness, drape. surface texture or other functionality. Laminated, layered or composite products may comprise a biofabricated leather.

[0094] The term "collagen" refers to any one of the known collagen types, including collagen types I through XX, as well as to any other collagens, whether natural, synthetic, semisynthetic, or recombinant. It includes all of the collagens, modified collagens and collagen-like proteins described herein. The term also encompasses procollagens and collagen-like proteins or collagenous proteins comprising the motif (Gly-X-Y)n where n is an integer. It encompasses molecules of collagen and collagen-like proteins, trimers of collagen molecules, fibrils of collagen, and fibers of collagen fibrils. It also refers to chemically, enzymatically or recombinantly-modified collagens or collagen-like molecules that can be fibrillated as well as fragments of collagen, collagen-like molecules and collagenous molecules capable of assembling into a nanofiber.

[0095] In some embodiments, amino acid residues, such as lysine and proline, in a collagen or collagen-like protein may lack hydroxylation or may have a lesser or greater degree of hydroxylation than a corresponding natural or unmodified collagen or collagen-like protein. In other embodiments, amino acid residues in a collagen or collagen-like protein may lack glycosylation or may have a lesser or greater degree of glycosylation than a corresponding natural or unmodified collagen or collagen-like protein.

[0096] The collagen in a collagen composition may homogenously contain a single type of collagen molecule, such as 100% bovine Type I collagen or 100% Type III bovine collagen, or may contain a mixture of different kinds of collagen molecules or collagen-like molecules, such as a mixture of bovine Type I and Type III molecules. Such mixtures may include >0%, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, 99 or <100% of the individual collagen or collagen-like protein components. This range includes all intermediate values. For example, a collagen composition may contain 30% Type I collagen and 70% Type III collagen, or may contain 33.3% of Type I collagen, 33.3% of Type II collagen, and 33.3% of Type III collagen, where the percentage of collagen is based on the total mass of collagen in the composition or on the molecular percentages of collagen molecules.

[0097] "Collagen fibrils" are nanofibers composed of tropocollagen (triple helices of collagen molecules). Tropocollagens also include tropocollagen-like structures exhibiting triple helical structures. The collagen fibrils of the material of the invention may have diameters ranging from 1 nm and 1 µm. For example, the collagen fibrils of the material of the invention may have an average or individual fibril diameter ranging from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, or 1,000 nm (1 µm). This range includes all intermediate values and subranges. In the invention collagen fibrils will form networks, for example, as depicted by FIGS. 3 and 4. Collagen fibrils can associate into fibrils exhibiting a banded pattern as shown in FIG. 1 and these fibrils can associate into larger aggregates of fibrils. In some embodiments the collagen or collagen-like fibrils will have diameters and orientations similar to those in the top grain or surface layer of a bovine or other conventional leather. In other embodiments, the collagen fibrils may have diameters comprising the top grain and those of a corium layer of a conventional leather.

[0098] A "collagen fiber" is composed of collagen fibrils that are tightly packed and exhibit a high degree of alignment in the direction of the fiber as shown in FIG. 1. It can vary in diameter from more than 1 µm to more than 10 µm, for example >1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 µm or more. Some embodiments of the network of collage fibrils of the invention do not contain substantial content of collagen fibers having diameters greater than 5 µm As shown in FIG. 2, the composition of the grain surface of a leather can differ from its more internal portions, such as the corium which contains coarser fiber bundles.

[0099] "Fibrillation" refers to a process of producing collagen fibrils. It may be performed by raising the pH or by adjusting the salt concentration of a collagen solution or suspension. In forming the fibrillated collagen, the collagen may be incubated to form the fibrils for any appropriate length of time, including between 1 min and 24 hrs and all intermediate values.

[0100] The fibrillated collagen described herein may generally be formed in any appropriate shape and/or thickness, including flat sheets, curved shapes/sheets, cylinders, threads, and complex shapes. These sheets and other forms may have virtually any linear dimensions including a thickness, width or height greater of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70,80, 90 mm; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 cm or more.

[0101] The fibrillated collagen in a biofabricated leather lacks any or any substantial amount of higher order structure, as defined in the claims. According to the invention, the collagen fibrils in a biofabricated leather will be unbundled and not form the large collagen fibers found in animal skin and provide a strong and uniform non-anisotropic structure to the biofabricated leather.

[0102] According to the invention, some collagen fibrils can be bundled or aligned into higher order structures, as defined in the claims. Collagen fibrils in a biofabricated leather may exhibit an orientation index ranging from 0, >0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, <1.0, or 1.0, wherein an orientation index of 0 describes collagen fibrils that lack alignment with other fibrils and an orientation index of 1.0 describes collagen fibrils that are completely aligned. This range includes all intermediate values and subranges. Those of skill in the art are familiar with the orientation index, for example, as described in Sizeland, et al., J. Agric. Food Chem. 61: 887-892 (2013) or Basil-Jones, et al., J. Agric. Food Chem. 59: 9972-9979 (2011).

[0103] The methods disclosed herein make it possible to produce a biofabricated leather comprising collagen fibrils differing in diameter from those produced by an animal expressing the same type of collagen. The characteristics of natural collagens, such as fibril diameter and degree of crosslinking between fibrils are affected by genetic and environmental factors such as the species or breed of the animal and by the condition of the animal , for example the amount of fat, type of feed (e.g. grain, grass), and level of exercise.

[0104] A biofabricated leather may be fibrillated and processed to contain collagen fibrils that resemble or mimic the properties of collagen fibrils produced by particular species or breeds of animals or by animals raised under particular conditions.

[0105] Alternatively, fibrillation and processing conditions can be selected to provide collagen fibrils distinct from those found in nature, such as by decreasing or increasing the fibril diameter, degree of alignment, or degree of crosslinking compared to fibrils in natural leather.

[0106] A crosslinked network of collagen, sometimes called a hydrogel, may be formed as the collagen is fibrillated, or it may form a network after fibrillation; in some variations, the process of fibrillating the collagen also forms gel-like network. Once formed, the fibrillated collagen network may be further stabilized by incorporating molecules with di-, tri-, or multifunctional reactive groups that include chromium, amines, carboxylic acids, sulfates, sulfites, sulfonates, aldehydes, hydrazides, sulfhydryls, diazarines, aryl-, azides, acrylates, epoxides, or phenols.

[0107] The fibrillated collagen network may also be polymerized with other agents (e.g. polymers that are capable of polymerizing or other suitable fibers), which could be used to further stabilize the matrix and provide the desired end structure. Hydrogels based upon acrylamides, acrylic acids, and their salts may be prepared using inverse suspension polymerization. Hydrogels described herein may be prepared from polar monomers. The hydrogels used may be natural polymer hydrogels, synthetic polymer hydrogels, or a combination of the two. The hydrogels used may be obtained using graft polymerization, crosslinking polymerization, networks formed of water soluble polymers, radiation crosslinking, and so on. A small amount of crosslinking agent may be added to the hydrogel composition to enhance polymerization.

[0108] Average or individual collagen fibril length may range from 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000 (1 µm); 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000 µm (1 mm) throughout the entire thickness of a biofabricated leather. These ranges include all intermediate values and subranges.

[0109] Fibrils may align with other fibrils over 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 µm or more of their lengths or may exhibit little or no alignment. In other embodiments, some collagen fibrils can be bundled or aligned into higher order structures.

[0110] Collagen fibrils in a biofabricated leather may exhibit an orientation index ranging from 0, >0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, <1.0, or 1.0, wherein an orientation index of 0 describes collagen fibrils that lack alignment with other fibrils and an orientation index of 1.0 describes collagen fibrils that are completely aligned. This range includes all intermediate values and subranges. Those of skill in the art are familiar with the orientation index, for example, as described in Sizeland, et al., J. Agric. Food Chem. 61: 887-892 (2013) or Basil-Jones, et al., J. Agric. Food Chem. 59: 9972-9979 (2011).

[0111] Collagen fibril density of a biofabricated leather may range from about 1 to 1,000 mg/cc, preferably from 5 to 500 mg/cc including all intermediate values, such as 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900 and 1,000 mg/cc.

[0112] The collagen fibrils in a biofabricated leather may exhibit a unimodal, bimodal, trimiodal, or multimodal distribution, for example, a biofabricated leather may be composed of two different fibril preparations each having a different range of fibril diameters arranged around one of two different modes. Such mixtures may be selected to impart additive, synergistic or a balance of physical properties on a biofabricated leather conferred by fibrils having different diameters.

[0113] Natural leather products may contain 150-300 mg/cc collagen based on the weight of the leather product. A biofabricated leather may contain a similar content of collagen or collagen fibrils as conventional leather based on the weight of the biofabricated leather, such as a collagen concentration of 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 or 350 mg/cc.

[0114] The fibrillated collagen, sometimes called a hydrogel, may have a thickness selected based on its ultimate use. Thicker or more concentrated preparations of the fibrillated collagen generally produce thicker biofabricated leathers. The final thickness of a biofabricated leather may be only 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90% that of the fibril preparation prior to shrinkage caused by crosslinking, dehydration and lubrication.

[0115] "Crosslinking" refers to formation (or reformation) of chemical bonds within between collagen molecules. A crosslinking reaction stabilizes the collagen structure and in some cases forms a network between collagen molecules. Any suitable crosslinking agent known in the art can be used including, without limitation, mineral salts such as those based on chromium, formaldehyde, hexamethylene diisocyanate, glutaraldehyde, polyepoxy compounds, gamma irradiation, and ultraviolet irradiation with riboflavin. The crosslinking can be performed by any known method; see, e.g., Bailey et al., Radiat. Res. 22:606-621 (1964); Housley et al., Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 67:824-830 (1975); Siegel, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 71:4826-4830 (1974); Mechanic et al., Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 45:644-653 (1971); Mechanic et al., Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 41:1597-1604 (1970); and Shoshan et al., Biochim. Biophys. Acta 154:261-263 (1968).

[0116] Crosslinkers include isocyanates, carbodiimide, poly(aldehyde), poly(azyridine), mineral salts, poly(epoxies), enzymes, thiirane, phenolics, novolac, resole as well as other compounds that have chemistries that react with amino acid side chains such as lysine, arginine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, hydroxylproline, or hydroxylysine.

[0117] A collagen or collagen-like protein may be chemically modified to promote chemical and/or physical crosslinking between the collagen fibrils. Chemical crosslinking may be possible because reactive groups such as lysine, glutamic acid, and hydroxyl groups on the collagen molecule project from collagen's rod-like fibril structure. Crosslinking that involve these groups prevent the collagen molecules from sliding past each other under stress and thus increases the mechanical strength of the collagen fibers. Examples of chemical crosslinking reactions include but are not limited to reactions with the ε-amino group of lysine, or reaction with carboxyl groups of the collagen molecule. Enzymes such as transglutaminase may also be used to generate crosslinks between glutamic acid and lysine to form a stable γ-glutamyl-lysine crosslink. Inducing crosslinking between functional groups of neighboring collagen molecules is known in the art. Crosslinking is another step that can be implemented here to adjust the physical properties obtained from the fibrillated collagen hydrogel-derived materials.

[0118] Still fibrillating or fibrillated collagen may be crosslinked or lubricated. Collagen fibrils can be treated with compounds containing chromium or at least one aldehyde group, or vegetable tannins prior to network formation, during network formation, or network gel formation. Crosslinking further stabilizes the fibrillated collagen leather. For example, collagen fibrils pre-treated with acrylic polymer followed by treatment with a vegetable tannin, such as Acacia Mollissima, can exhibit increased hydrothermal stability. In other embodiments, glyceraldehyde may be used as a cross-linking agent to increase the thermal stability, proteolytic resistance, and mechanical characteristics, such as Young's modulus and tensile stress, of the fibrillated collagen.

[0119] A biofabricated material containing a network of collagen fibrils may contain 0, >0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20% or more of a crosslinking agent including tanning agents used for conventional leather. The crosslinking agents may be covalently bound to the collagen fibrils or other components of a biofabricated material or non-covalently associated with them. Preferably, a biofabricated leather will contain no more than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10% of a crosslinking agent.

[0120] "Lubricating" describes a process of applying a lubricant, such as a fat or other hydrophobic compound or any material that modulates or controls fibril-fibril bonding during dehydration to leather or to biofabricated products comprising collagen. A desirable feature of the leather aesthetic is the stiffness or hand of the material. In order to achieve this property, water-mediated hydrogen bonding between fibrils and/or fibers is limited in leather through the use of lubricants. Examples of lubricants include fats, biological, mineral or synthetic oils, cod oil, sulfonated oil, polymers, organofunctional siloxanes, and other hydrophobic compounds or agents used for fatliquoring conventional leather as well as mixtures thereof. While lubricating is in some ways analogous to fatliquoring a natural leather, a biofabricated product can be more uniformly treated with a lubricant due to its method of manufacture, more homogenous composition and less complex composition.

[0121] Other lubricants include surfactants, anionic surfactants, cationic surfactants, cationic polymeric surfactants, anionic polymeric surfactants, amphiphilic polymers, fatty acids, modified fatty acids, nonionic hydrophilic polymers, nonionic hydrophobic polymers, poly acrylic acids, poly methacrylic, acrylics, natural rubbers, synthetic rubbers, resins, amphiphilic anionic polymer and copolymers, amphiphilic cationic polymer and copolymers and mixtures thereof as well as emulsions or suspensions of these in water, alcohol, ketones, and other solvents.

[0122] Lubricants may be added to a biofabricated material containing collagen fibrils. Lubricants may be incorporated in any amount that facilitates fibril movement or that confers leather-like properties such as flexibility, decrease in brittleness, durability, or water resistance. A lubricant content can range from about 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60% by weight of the biofabricated leather.

[0123] "Dehydrating" or "dewatering" describes a process of removing water from a mixture containing collagen fibrils and water, such as an aqueous solution, suspension , gel, or hydrogel containing fibrillated collagen. Water may be removed by filtration, evaporation, freeze-drying, solvent exchange, vacuum-drying, convection-drying, heating, irradiating or microwaving, or by other known methods for removing water. In addition, chemical crosslinking of collagen is known to remove bound water from collagen by consuming hydrophilic amino acid residues such as lysine, arginine, and hydroxylysine among others. The inventors have found that acetone quickly dehydrates collagen fibrils and may also remove water bound to hydrated collagen molecules. Water content of a biofabricated material or leather after dehydration is preferably no more than 60% by weight, for example, no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 35, 40, 50 or 60% by weight of the biofabricated leather. This range includes all intermediate values. Water content is measured by equilibration at 65% relative humidity at 25°C and 1 atm.

[0124] "Grain texture" describes a leather-like texture which is aesthetically or texturally the similar to the texture of a full grain leather, top grain leather, corrected grain leather (where an artificial grain has been applied), or coarser split grain leather texture. Advantageously, the biofabricated material of the invention can be tuned to provide a fine grain, resembling the surface grain of a leather such as that depicted by FIG. 2A, 2B and 2C.

[0125] A "biofabricated leather product" includes products comprising at least one component of a biofabricated leather such as foot ware, garments, gloves, furniture or vehicle upholstery and other leather goods and products. It includes but is not limited to clothing, such as overcoats, coats, jackets, shirts, trousers, pants, shorts, swimwear, undergarments, uniforms, emblems or letters, costumes, ties, skirts, dresses, blouses, leggings, gloves, mittens, foot ware, shoes, shoe components such as sole, quarter, tongue, cuff, welt, and counter, dress shoes, athletic shoes, running shoes, casual shoes, athletic, running or casual shoe components such as toe cap, toe box, outsole, midsole, upper, laces, eyelets, collar, lining, Achilles notch, heel, and counter, fashion or women's shoes and their shoe components such as upper, outer sole, toe spring, toe box, decoration, vamp, lining, sock, insole, platform, counter, and heel or high heel, boots, sandals, buttons, sandals, hats, masks, headgear, headbands, head wraps, and belts; jewelry such as bracelets, watch bands, and necklaces; gloves, umbrellas, walking sticks, wallets, mobile phone or wearable computer coverings, purses, backpacks, suitcases, handbags, folios, folders, boxes, and other personal objects; athletic, sports, hunting or recreational gear such as harnesses, bridles, reins, bits, leashes, mitts, tennis rackets, golf clubs, polo, hockey, or lacrosse gear, chessboards and game boards, medicine balls, kick balls, baseballs, and other kinds of balls, and toys; book bindings, book covers, picture frames or artwork; furniture and home, office or other interior or exterior furnishings including chairs, sofas, doors, seats, ottomans, room dividers, coasters, mouse pads, desk blotters, or other pads, tables, beds, floor, wall or ceiling coverings, flooring; automobile, boat, aircraft and other vehicular products including seats, headrests, upholstery, paneling, steering wheel, joystick or control coverings and other wraps or coverings.

[0126] Many uses of leather products require a durable product that doesn't rip or tear, even when the leather has been stitched together. Typical products that include stitched leather and require durable leather include automobile steering wheel covers, automobile seats, furniture, sporting goods, sport shoes, sneakers, watch straps and the like. There is a need to increase the durability of biofabricated leather to improve performance in these products. A biofabricated leather according to the invention can be used to make any of these products.

[0127] Physical Properties of a biofabricated network of collagen fibrils or a biofabricated leather may be selected or tuned by selecting the type of collagen, the amount of concentration of collagen fibrillated, the degree of fibrillation, crosslinking, dehydration and lubrication.

[0128] Many advantageous properties are associated with the network structure of the collagen fibrils which can provide strong, flexible and substantially uniform properties to the resulting biofabricated material or leather. Preferable physical properties of the biofabricated leather according to the invention include a tensile strength ranging from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 or more MPa, a flexibility determined by elongation at break ranging from 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30% or more, softness as determined by ISO 17235 of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 mm or more, a thickness ranging from 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3. 1,4, 1,5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 2.0 mm or more, and a collagen density (collagen fibril density) of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000 mg/cc or more, preferably 100-500 mg/cc. The above ranges include all subranges and intermediate values.

[0129] Thickness. Depending on its ultimate application a biofabricated material or leather may have any thickness. Its thickness preferably ranges from about 0.05 mm to 20 mm as well as any intermediate value within this range, such as 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 mm or more. The thickness of a biofabricated leather can be controlled by adjusting collagen content.

[0130] Elastic modulus. The elastic modulus (also known as Young's modulus) is a number that measures an object or substance's resistance to being deformed elastically (i.e., non-permanently) when a force is applied to it. The elastic modulus of an object is defined as the slope of its stress-strain curve in the elastic deformation region. A stiffer material will have a higher elastic modulus. The elastic modulus can be measured using a texture analyzer.

[0131] A biofabricated leather can have an elastic modulus of at least 100 kPa. It can range from 100 kPa to 1,000 MPa as well as any intermediate value in this range, such as 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, or 1,000 MPa. A biofabricated leather may be able to elongate up to 300 % from its relaxed state length, for example, by >0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250, or 300 % of its relaxed state length.

[0132] Tensile strength (also known as ultimate tensile strength) is the capacity of a material or structure to withstand loads tending to elongate, as opposed to compressive strength, which withstands loads tending to reduce size. Tensile strength resists tension or being pulled apart, whereas compressive strength resists compression or being pushed together.

[0133] A sample of a biofabricated material may be tested for tensile strength using an Instron machine. Clamps are attached to the ends of the sample and the sample is pulled in opposite directions until failure. Good strength is demonstrated when the sample has a tensile strength of at least 1 MPa. A biofabricated leather can have a tensile strength of at least 1 kPa. It can range from 1 kPa to 100 MPa as well as any intermediate value in this range, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 kPa; 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, or 100 MPa.

[0134] Tear strength (also known as tear resistance) is a measure of how well a material can withstand the effects of tearing More specifically however it is how well a material (normally rubber) resists the growth of any cuts when under tension, it is usually measured in kN/m. Tear resistance can be measured by the ASTM D 412 method (the same used to measure tensile strength, modulus and elongation). ASTM D 624 can be used to measure the resistance to the formation of a tear (tear initiation) and the resistance to the expansion of a tear (tear propagation). Regardless of which of these two is being measured, the sample is held between two holders and a uniform pulling force applied until the aforementioned deformation occurs. Tear resistance is then calculated by dividing the force applied by the thickness of the material. A biofabricated leather may exhibit tear resistance of at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 100, 150 or 200% more than that of a conventional top grain or other leather of the same thickness comprising the same type of collagen, e.g., bovine Type I or Type III collagen, processed using the same crosslinker(s) or lubricants. A biofabricated material may have a tear strength ranging from about 1 to 500 N, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275, 300, 325, 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, or 500 as well as any intermediate tear strength within this range.

[0135] Softness. ISO 17235:2015 specifies a non-destructive method for determining the softness of leather. It is applicable to all non-rigid leathers, e.g. shoe upper leather, upholstery leather, leather goods leather, and apparel leather. A biofabricated leather may have a softness as determined by ISO 17235 of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 mm or more.

[0136] Grain. The top grain surface of leather is often regarded as the most desirable due to its soft texture and smooth surface. The top grain is a highly porous network of collagen fibrils. The strength and tear resistance of the grain is often a limitation for practical applications of the top grain alone and conventional leather products are often backed with corium having a much coarser grain. FIGS. 2A, 2B and 2C compare top grain and corium leather surfaces. A biofabricated material as disclosed herein which can be produced with strong and uniform physical properties or increased thickness can be used to provide top grain like products without the requirement for corium backing.

[0137] Content of other components. In some embodiments, the collagen is free of other leather components such as elastin or non-structural animal proteins. However, in some embodiments the content of actin, keratin, elastin, fibrin, albumin, globulin, mucin, mucinoids, noncollagen structural proteins, and/or noncollagen nonstructural proteins in a biofabricated leather may range from 0, 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 to 10% by weight of the biofabricated leather. In other embodiments, a content of actin, keratin, elastin, fibrin, albumin, globulin, mucin, mucinoids, noncollagen structural proteins, and/or noncollagen nonstructural proteins may be incorporated into a biofabricated leather in amounts ranging from >0, 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20% or more by weight of a biofabricated leather. Such components may be introduced during or after fibrillation, cross-linking, dehydration or lubrication.

[0138] A "leather dye" refers to dyes which can be used to color leather or biofabricated leather. These include acidic dyes, direct dyes, lakes, sulfur dyes, basic dyes and reactive dyes. Dyes and pigments can also be incorporated into a precursor of a biofabricated leather, such as into a suspension or network gel comprising collagen fibrils during production of the biofabricated leather.

[0139] "Fillers". In some embodiments a biofabricated leather may comprise fillers, other than components of leather, such as microspheres. One way to control the organization of the dehydrated fibril network is to include filling materials that keep the fibrils spaced apart during dehydration. These filler materials include nanoparticles, microparticles, or various polymers such as syntans commonly used in the tanning industry. These filling materials could be part of the final dehydrated leather material, or the filling materials could be sacrificial, that is they are degraded or dissolved away leaving open space for a more porous fibril network. The shape and dimension of these fillers may also be used to control the orientation of the dehydrated fibril network.

[0140] In some embodiments a filler may comprise polymeric microsphere(s), bead(s), fiber(s), wire(s), or organic salt(s). Other materials may also be embedded or otherwise incorporated into a biofabricated leather or into a network of collagen fibrils according to the invention. These include, but are not limited to one fibers, including both woven and nonwoven fibers as well as cotton, wool, cashmere, angora, linen, bamboo, bast, hemp, soya, seacell, fibers produced from milk or milk proteins, silk, spider silk, other peptides or polypeptides including recombinantly produced peptides or polypeptides, chitosan, mycelium, cellulose including bacterial cellulose, wood including wood fibers, rayon, lyocell, vicose, antimicrobial yarn (A.M.Y.), Sorbtek, nylon, polyester, elastomers such as lycra®, spandex or elastane and other ]polyester-polyurethane copolymers, aramids, carbon including carbon fibers and fullerenes, glass including glass fibers and nonwovens, silicon and silicon-containing compounds, minerals, including mineral particles and mineral fibers, and metals or metal alloys, including those comprising iron, steel, lead, gold, silver, platinum, copper, zinc and titanium, which may be in the form of particles, fibers, wires or other forms suitable for incorporating into biofabricated leather. Such fillers may include an electrically conductive material, magnetic material, fluorescent material, bioluminescent material, phosphorescent material or other photoluminescent material, or combinations thereof. Mixtures or blends of these components may also be embedded or incorporated into a biofabricated leather, for example, to modify the chemical and physical properties disclosed herein.

[0141] Method of making. A method of forming biofabricated leather from collagen includes the steps of fibrillating, crosslinking, dehydrating/dewatering and lubricating in any order. For example, a collagen solution may be fibrillated, the fibrils may be crosslinked with an agent such as glutaraldehyde, then coated with a lubricant such as a sulfited oil, and then dehydrated through filtration to form a fibrillated collagen leather. However, the method of making is not limited to this particular order of steps.

[0142] Alternatively, following fibril crosslinking, the fibrils can be dehydrated through a solvent exchange with acetone, followed by fat liquoring with a sulfited oil before evaporating away the solvent to form a fibrillated collagen leather. In addition, the incorporation of chemical or physical crosslinks between fibrils (to impart material strength) can be accomplished at any point during the process. For example, a solid fibrillated collagen, sometimes called a hydrogel, can be formed, then this fibril network can be dehydrated through a solvent exchange with acetone, followed by fat liquoring with a sulfited oil. Further, the collagen fibrils can be crosslinked into a network through the incorporation of other polymers such as those typically used in resin formulations.

[0143] Materials such as lubricants, humectants, dyes and other treating agents can be uniformly distributed through a biofabricated leather product during the biofabrication process This is an advantage compared to conventional leather tanning and fat liquoring which due to its structural heterogeneity often makes uniform treatment impossible. Further, as chemical agents can be incorporated before network formation, smaller amounts of treatment chemicals would be necessary as there is reduced chemical loss by not having to penetrate a collagen network from a float containing the treatment chemicals. Unlike high temperatures often used to treat natural leather, a biofabricated can be heated at ambient temperature or at a temperature no greater than 37°C during processing before evaporating away the solvent to form a fibrillated collagen leather. Alternatively, collagen fibrils can be crosslinked and lubricated in suspension before forming a network between fibrils during dehydration or through the addition of a binding agent to the suspension or to the dehydrated material.

[0144] A method of forming a biofabricated leather material may include inducing fibrillation of collagen in a solution; crosslinking (e.g., tanning) and dehydrating the fibrillated collagen, which may appear in the form of a hydrogel, to obtain a fibrillated collagen sheet or other product, and incorporating at least one humectant or lubricant, such as a fat or oil into the fibrillated collagen sheet or product to obtain a flexible biofabricated leather.

[0145] A method of biofabricating a leather from fibrils may include inducing fibrillation of collagen or collagen-like proteins in a solution to obtain a fibrillated collagen hydrogel; crosslinking the fibrillated collagen hydrogel to obtain a fibrillated collagen hydrogel leather; and incorporating at least one lubricating oil into the fibrillated collagen hydrogel leather.

[0146] In the processes described herein for producing a biofabricated leather, the order of the steps for forming biofabricated leather may be varied or two or more steps may be performed simultaneously. For example, fibrillating and crosslinking may be performed together or by addition of one or more agents, or crosslinker and lubricant may be incorporated in the solution prior to fibrillating the collagen, etc.

[0147] The collagen or collagen-like proteins may be obtained through extraction of collagen from an animal source, such as, but not limited to bovine hide or tendon collagen extraction. Alternatively, the collagen or collagen-like proteins may be obtained from a non-animal source, for example through recombinant DNA techniques, cell culture techniques, or chemical peptide synthesis.

[0148] Any of these methods may include polymerizing the collagen or collagen-like proteins into dimers, trimers, and higher order oligomers prior to fibrillation, and/or chemically modifying the collagen or collagen-like proteins to promote crosslinking between the collagen or collagen-like proteins.

[0149] Any of these methods may include functionalizing the collagen or collagen-like proteins with one or a combination of chromium, amine, carboxylic acid, sulfate, sulfite, sulfonate, aldehyde, hydrazide, sulfhydryl, diazirine, aryl, azide, acrylate, epoxide, or phenol group.

[0150] Inducing fibrillation may include adding a salt or a combination of salts, for example, the salt or combination of salts may include: Na3PO4, K3PO4, KCl, and NaCl, the salt concentration of each salt may be between 10 mM to 5M, etc.

[0151] In general, inducing fibrillation may comprise adjusting the pH with an acid or a base, adding a nucleating agent, such as a branched collagen microgel, wherein the nucleating agent has a concentration between 1 mM to 100 mM.

[0152] The fibrillated collagen may be stabilized with a chromium compound, an aldehyde compound, or vegetable tannins, or any other crosslinking agent. For example, the fibrillated collagen may be stabilized with a chromium compound, an aldehyde compound, or vegetable tannins, wherein the chromium, aldehyde, or vegetable tannin compounds having a concentration of between 1 mM to 100 mM.

[0153] Any of these methods may include adjusting the water content of the fibrillated collagen to 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 or 60% or less by weight to obtain the fibrillated collagen hydrogel leather. For example, the fibrillated collagen material may be dehydrated. Any of these methods may also include dyeing and/or applying a surface finish to the fibrillated collagen leather.

[0154] The selection of collagen starting materials for biofabricating the engineered leather materials described herein can be controlled, the resulting product may differential formed with physical and aesthetic properties for distinct end uses, such as with features useful in footware and different features useful in apparel. In general, the biofabricated fibrillated collagen hydrogel-derived leathers described herein are formed from solutions of collagen that are induced to self-assemble into collagen fibrils.

[0155] The collagen fibrils, unlike endogenous collagen fibrils, are not assembled into any high-order structures (e.g., bundles of fibers), but remain somewhat disordered, more particularly unbundled fibrils. When assembled in vivo, collagen fibrils are typically aligned laterally to form bundles having a higher order of structure and make up tough, micron-sized collagen fibers found, e.g., in skin. A characteristic feature of native collagen fibrils is their banded structure. The diameter of the native fibril changes slightly along the length, with a highly reproducible D-band repeat of approximately 67 nm. In some of the methods described herein, collagen fibrils may be unbanded and unbundled or may be banded and unbundled or may have a D-band of different spacing ranging from 1 to 100 nm and all intermediate values in this range). The collagen fibrils may be randomly oriented (e.g., un-oriented or not oriented in any particular direction or axis).

[0156] The starting material used to form the biofabricated leather material as described herein may include any appropriate non-human collagen source or modified or engineered collagens that can be fibrillated.

[0157] Various forms of collagen are found throughout the animal kingdom. The collagen used herein may be obtained from animal sources, including both vertebrates and invertebrates, or from synthetic sources. Collagen may also be sourced from byproducts of existing animal processing. Collagen obtained from animal sources may be isolated using standard laboratory techniques known in the art, for example, Silva et. Al., Marine Origin Collagens and its Potential Applications, Mar. Drugs, 2014 Dec., 12(12); 5881-5901).

[0158] One major benefit of the biofabricated leather materials and methods for forming them described herein is that collagen may be obtained from sources that do not require killing of an animal.

[0159] The collagen described herein also may be obtained by cell culture techniques including from cells grown in a bioreactor.

[0160] Collagen may also be obtained via recombinant DNA techniques. Constructs encoding non-human collagen may be introduced into host organisms to produce non-human collagen. For instance, collagen may also be produced with yeast, such as Hansenula polymorpha, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pichia pastoris and the like as the host. Further, in recent years, bacterial genomes have been identified that provide the signature (Gly-Xaa-Yaa)n repeating amino acid sequence that is characteristic of triple helix collagen. For example, gram positive bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes contains two collagen-like proteins, Scl1 and Scl2 that now have well characterized structure and functional properties. Thus, it would be possible to obtain constructs in recombinant E. coli systems with various sequence modifications of either Scl1 or Scl2 for establishing large scale production methods. Collagen may also be obtained through standard peptide synthesis techniques. Collagen obtained from any of the techniques mentioned may be further polymerized. Collagen dimers and trimers are formed from self-association of collagen monomers in solution.

[0161] As an initial step in the formation of the collagen materials described herein, the starting collagen material may be placed in solution and fibrillated. Collagen fibrillation may be induced through the introduction of salts to the collagen solution. The addition of a salt or a combination of salts such as sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride to the collagen solution may change the ionic strength of the collagen solution. Collagen fibrillation may occur as a result of increasing electrostatic interactions, through greater hydrogen bonding, Van der Waals interactions, and covalent bonding. Suitable salt concentrations may range, for example, from approximately 10 mM, 50 mM, 100 mM, 500 mM, 1M, 2M, 3M, 4M to 5M as well as any intermediate value within this range.

[0162] Collagen fibrillation may also be induced or enhanced with a nucleating agent other than salts. Nucleating agents provide a surface on which collagen monomers can come into close contact with each other to initiate fibrillation or can act as a branch point in which multiple fibrils are connected through the nucleating agent. Examples of suitable nucleating agents include but are not limited to: microgels containing collagen, collagen micro or nanoparticles, metallic particles or naturally or synthetically derived fibers. Suitable nucleating agent concentrations may range from approximately 1 mM to 100 mM.

[0163] A collagen network may also be highly sensitive to pH. During the fibrillation step, the pH may be adjusted to control fibril dimensions such as diameter and length. The overall dimensions and organization of the collagen fibrils will affect the toughness, stretchability, and breathability of the resulting fibrillated collagen derived materials. This may be of use for fabricating fibrillated collagen derived leather for various uses that may require different toughness, flexibility, and breathability. Adjustment of pH, with or without a change in salt concentration may be used for fibrillation.

[0164] One way to control the organization of the dehydrated fibril network is to include filling materials that keep the fibrils spaced apart during drying. These filler materials could include nanoparticles, microparticles, or various polymers such as syntans commonly used in the tanning industry. These filling materials could be part of the final dehydrated leather material, or the filling materials could be sacrificial, that is they are degraded or dissolved away leaving open space for a more porous fibril network.

[0165] The collagen or collagen-like proteins may be chemically modified to promote chemical and physical crosslinking between the collagen fibrils. Chemical crosslinking may be possible because reactive groups such as lysine, glutamic acid, and hydroxyl groups on the collagen molecule project from collagen's rod-like fibril structure. Crosslinking that involve these groups prevent the collagen molecules from sliding past each other under stress and thus increases the mechanical strength of the collagen fibers. Examples of chemical crosslinking reactions include but are not limited to reactions with the ε-amino group of lysine, or reaction with carboxyl groups of the collagen molecule. Enzymes such as transglutaminase may also be used to generate crosslinks between glutamic acid and lysine to form a stable γ-glutamyl-lysine crosslink. Inducing crosslinking between functional groups of neighboring collagen molecules is known in the art. Crosslinking is another step that can be implemented here to adjust the physical properties obtained from the fibrillated collagen hydrogel-derived materials.

[0166] Once formed, the fibrillated collagen network may be further stabilized by incorporating molecules with di-, tri-, or multifunctional reactive groups that include chromium, amines, carboxylic acids, sulfates, sulfites, sulfonates, aldehydes, hydrazides, sulfhydryls, diazarines, aryl-, azides, acrylates, epoxides, or phenols.

[0167] The fibrillated collagen network may also be polymerized with other agents (e.g. polymers that are capable of polymerizing or other suitable fibers) that form a hydrogel or have fibrous qualities, which could be used to further stabilize the matrix and provide the desired end structure. Hydrogels based upon acrylamides, acrylic acids, and their salts may be prepared using inverse suspension polymerization. Hydrogels described herein may be prepared from polar monomers. The hydrogels used may be natural polymer hydrogels, synthetic polymer hydrogels, or a combination of the two. The hydrogels used may be obtained using graft polymerization, crosslinking polymerization, networks formed of water soluble polymers, radiation crosslinking, and so on. A small amount of crosslinking agent may be added to the hydrogel composition to enhance polymerization.

[0168] Any appropriate thickness of the fibrillated collagen hydrogel may be made as described herein. Because the final thickness will be much less (e.g., between 10-90% thinner) than the hydrogel thickness, the initial hydrogel thickness may depend on the thickness of the final product desired, presuming the changes to the thickness (or overall volume) including shrinkage during crosslinking, dehydration and/or adding one or more oils or other lubricants as described herein.

[0169] A hydrogel thickness may be between 0.1 mm and 50 cm or any intermediate value within this range. In forming the fibrillated hydrogel, the hydrogel may be incubated to form the thickness for any appropriate length of time, including between 1 min and 24 hrs.

[0170] The fibrillated collagen hydrogels described herein may generally be formed in any appropriate shape and/or thickness, including flat sheets, curved shapes/sheets, cylinders, threads, and complex shapes. Further, virtually any linear size of these shapes. For example, any of these hydrogels may be formed into a sheet having a thickness as described and a length of greater than 10 mm (e.g., greater than, in cm, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1500, etc.) and width that is greater than 10 mm, such as greater than, in cm, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1500, etc.

[0171] Once the collagen fibrils, often characterized as a hydrogel, have formed or during formation, they may be crosslinked. For example, the fibrillated collagen hydrogel be treated with compounds containing chromium or at least one aldehyde group, or vegetable tannins prior to gel formation, during gel formation, or after gel formation, to further stabilize the fibrillated collagen hydrogel. For example, collagen fibrils may be pre-treated with acrylic polymer followed by treatment with a vegetable tannin (e.g., Acacia Mollissima) may exhibit increased hydrothermal stability. In other examples, glyceraldehyde may be used as a cross-linking agent that may increase the thermal stability, proteolytic resistance, and mechanical characteristics (e.g. Young's modulus, tensile stress) of the fibrillated collagen hydrogel.

[0172] Fibrillation of a solution of collagen as described herein (e.g., formation of collagen fibrils that are lacking in higher order organization such as bundles) may be visually tracked. For example, as fibrillation is induced, the clear solution of collagen, which has little absorbance at 400 nm, becomes opaque and having an absorbance of approximately 0.5 at 400 nm. Depending on the temperature and volume of starting material, the fibrillation and hydrogel formation may occur somewhat quickly after induction and be largely complete after an hour and a half, as shown by the absorbance values leveling off after 70 minute's time passing. An increase in storage modulus (or viscoelastic qualities of the material) of the fibrillated collagen hydrogel after induction from around 1 Pa (for the solution of collagen) to approximately 400 Pa for the fibrillated collagen hydrogel may occur.

[0173] As mentioned above and illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, animal skin typically includes fibrils that are ordered into higher-order structures, including the presence of banding (having regular lacunar regions) and formation of multiple fibrils into aligned fibers which may then bundled into collagen bundles. In contrast, the collagen hydrogels and therefore the biofabricated leathers described herein may have a primary disorganized collagen fibril structure throughout the entire thickness (in some cases entire volume) of the material. Specifically, the collagen structure of the biofabricated leathers formed from collagen hydrogels may be primarily unbundled and un-oriented along any particular axis. In some variations the collagen fibrils may be unbanded (e.g., greater than 10% unbanded, greater than 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, etc. unbanded throughout the volume). Furthermore, the orientation of the collagen fibrils within the volume (or throughout the volume) may be un-oriented, or randomly oriented, and this lack of orientation may be the same throughout the volume, rather than changing through the volume thickness as in native leather, which may have change from bundles of collagen fibrils that are vertically oriented to bundles that are horizontally oriented in the thickness. Any of the properties which are the same at any level thickness of the hydrogel and therefore resulting leather material may be referred to herein as "uniformly" the same throughout the thickness.

[0174] In addition, any of the biofabricated leathers described herein may have a uniform distribution of fibrils throughout the thickness of the gel and therefore resulting leather material. This is in contrast with native leathers, such as the material shown in FIG. 2, showing an increase in the number of fiber bundles through the thickness of the material.

[0175] The lack of higher-level organization of the fibrillated collagen hydrogels and leather material formed from them is apparent in FIGS. 3A and 3B. FIG. 3A shows a scanning electron micrograph of a fibrillated collagen hydrogel formed as described herein. Similarly, FIG. 4 shows a transmission electron micrograph through a fibrillated collagen hydrogel. The transmission electron micrograph and the scanning electron micrograph both show the fibrillated collagen hydrogel as being a disordered tangle of collagen fibrils. As previously mentioned, the density and to some extent, the pattern of collagen fibril formation may be controlled by adjusting the pH of the collagen solution during fibrillation induction along with the concentration of fibrils during dehydration. FIG. 3 also shows a scanning electron micrograph of bovine corium. In comparison with a natural bovine corium (FIG. 3B), the fibrillated collagen network is much more random and lacks the apparent striations. Although the overall size of the fibrils may be similar, the arrangement of these fibrils is quite different. Such ultrastructural differences between the collagen fibrils within the fibrillated collagen hydrogel and natural tissue such as bovine corium (and resulting leather made therefrom) may not be an issue in the final biofabricated leather product may be as soft or softer, and more pliable than natural leather, and may have a similar appearance.

[0176] The fibrillated collagen, sometimes called a hydrogel, may then be dehydrated to rid the fibrillated collagen hydrogel of the majority of its water content. Removing the water from the fibrillated collagen hydrogel may change its physical quality from a hydrated gel to a pliable sheet. The material may be treated to prevent breakage/tearing. For example, care may be taken not to remove too much water from the fibrillated collagen. In some examples, it may be desirable to dehydrate the fibrillated collagen to have a water content of less than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 or 60 %. Water content is determined by equilibration at 25°C at 1 atm pressure at a relative humidity of 65%.

[0177] Dehydration may involve air drying, vacuum and pressure filtration, solvent exchange or the like. For example, fibrillated collagen hydrogel may also undergo dehydration through replacement of its water content with organic solvents. Suitable organic solvents may include, but are not limited to acetone, ethanol, diethyl ether, and so forth. Subsequently, the organic solvents may be evaporated (e.g. air drying, vacuum drying, etc.). It is also possible to perform successive steps of dehydration using one or more than one organic solvent to fine tune the level of dehydration in the final product.

[0178] After or during dehydration, the fibrillated collagen material may be treated with lubricants and/or oils to impart greater flexibility and suppleness to the fibrillated collagen material. Using a combination of oil and solvent may allow the oil to better penetrate the fibrillated collagen network compared to using oil by itself. Oil by itself will only likely penetrate the exposed surfaces but may not readily infiltrate the entire thickness of the fibrillated collagen material in a reasonable amount of time. Once the oil/solvent composition has penetrated the entire thickness of the material, the solvent may then be removed. In some embodiments, the resulting fibrillated collagen material exhibits a more leather-like appearance as compared to the dehydrated fibrillated collagen material prior to lubricant and/or oil treatment. Suitable oils and lubricants may include but are not limited to castor oil, pine oil, lanolin, mink oil, neatsfoot oil, fish oil, shea butter, aloe, and so forth.

[0179] Lubricating the dehydrated and crosslinkled fibrillated collagen network or hydrogel to form a leather material may result in a material having properties that are similar, or better, than the properties of natural leather. The solutions that included a combination of oils and organic solvent increased the mass and the softness (inversely proportional to the slope of the stress-strain curve) of the dehydrated fibrillated collagen material. This is due to the combination of oils and organic solvents penetrating the dehydrated fibrillated collagen material and once penetrated through, the oils remained distributed throughout the material, while the organic solvents are able to evaporate away. While not shown, the use of oils alone may not be as effective in penetrating entirely through the dehydrated fibrillated collagen material.

[0180] The resulting fibrillated collagen materials then may be treated similarly to natural leather derived from animal hide or skin, and be re-tanned, dyed, and/or finished. Additional processing steps may include: crosslinking, re-tanning, and surface coating. Crosslinking and re-tanning may include sub-processes such as wetting back (re-hydrating semi-processed leather), sammying (45-55% water is squeezed from the leather), splitting (leather is split into one or more layers), shaving (leather is thinned), neutralization (pH of leather is adjusted to between 4.5 and 6.5), dyeing (leather is colored), fat liquoring (fats, oils, waxes are fixed to the leather fibers), filling (dense/heavy chemicals to make leather harder and heavier), stuffing (fats, oils, waxes added between leather fibers), fixation (unbound chemicals are bonded/trapped and removed), setting (grain flatness are imparted and excess water removed), drying (leather is dried to desired moisture levels, 10-25%), conditioning (moisture is added to leather to a 18-28% level), softening (physical softening of leather by separating the fibers), or buffing (abrading surface of leather to reduce nap and grain defects). Surface coating may include any one or combination of the following steps: oiling (leather coated with raw oil or oils), buffing, spraying, roller coating, curtain coating, polishing, plating, embossing, ironing, or glazing.

[0181] Unlike animal hides, where the hide has to be trimmed to obtain the desired thickness or dimensions, the engineered leather material may be fabricated with a wide range of thicknesses as well as the desired dimensions with a particular end product in mind.

[0182] The production of such engineered leather materials may also generate less waste by bypassing the step of removing excess proteins, fats, and hair necessary for treating natural animal hide in the leather production process, which results in less environmental impact from the disclosed process and the products derived from these methods.

EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION



[0183] The invention is as defined in the claims.

[0184] The invention includes, but is not limited to biofabricated materials having the features described below.

[0185] The invention is directed to a material:
  1. (i) comprising a network of non-human collagen fibrils,
    wherein less than 5 or 10% by weight of the collagen fibrils in the material are in the form of collagen fibers having a diameter of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 µm or more and/or are in the form of fibrils aligned for 100 µm or more of their lengths; wherein the collagen fibrils are not assembled into bundles of fibers; wherein said material contains no more than 10, 20, 30 or 40% by weight water; wherein said material contains at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, or 40% by weight of a lubricant; wherein said material does not contain actin; and wherein optionally, the material comprises a top and bottom surface or an inner and outer surface; or
  2. (ii) comprising a network of recombinant non-human collagen fibrils, wherein the collagen contains no hydroxylysine; wherein said material contains no more than 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25% by weight water; wherein the material contains at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, or 40% of a lubricant; and wherein optionally, the material comprises a top and bottom surface or an inner and outer surface. Lubricant content may be selected to match or not exceed the absorptive capacity of the biofabricated material for a lubricant. Such a material may comprise mammalian collagen, such as bovine Type I or Type III collagen. Preferably it will not contain hair, hair follicle(s), or fat(s) of an animal that naturally expresses the collagen molecules it contains. For example, it may contain less than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10% by weight of actin, keratin, elastin, fibrin, albumin, globulin, mucin, mucinoids, noncollagen structural proteins, and/or noncollagen nonstructural proteins found in conventional leather. It may be substantially free of other collagenous proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, or lipids, or immunogens, antigens, or allergens found in a conventional leather, such as an animal that naturally expresses the collagen molecules in a biofabricated material. Alternative embodiments may incorporate 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10% of one or more of actin, keratin, elastin, fibrin, albumin, globulin, mucin, mucinoids, noncollagen structural proteins, and/or noncollagen nonstructural proteins found in conventional leather.


[0186] The collagen used to produce the fibrils in this material may be isolated from a natural source, preferably in a purified form, or it may be recombinantly produced or produced by chemical synthesis. It generally contains 4-hydroxyproline. It may be different in chemical structure from collagen obtained from a natural source, for example, it may contain a lower content of, or substantially no hydroxylysine or 3-hydroxyproline, glycosylated or crosslinked amino acid residues, or other post-translational modifications of a collagen amino acid sequence. Alternatively, it may contain a higher content of hydroxylated amino acid residues, glycosylated residues, crosslinks or other chemical modifications.

[0187] The material described above generally comprises a network of collagen fibrils which may exhibit a fibril density of between 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, and 1,000 mg/cc, preferably between 100 and 500 mg/cc. These fibrils or network of fibrils can confer a grain texture, such as a top grain texture, feel, or aesthetic on a biofabricated material or biofabricated leather. However, a biofabricated material can exhibit a porosity and other physical properties that are more uniform than a corresponding conventional leather which can be controlled or tuned by control of composition, fibril size, crosslinking and lubricating in a biofabricated product.

[0188] In many embodiments, the biofabricated material described above will have a top and bottom surface, or an inner and outer surface, comprising the collagen fibrils. One or more of these surfaces may be externally exposed. A single layer of biofabricated material can exhibit substantially identical grain and appearance on both of its sides, unlike conventional leather products where collagen fibril or fiber diameters increase for more inner layers of a hide.

[0189] In other embodiments a biofabricated material may be cast, molded or otherwise configured into a particular shape which can exhibit substantially uniform properties over its surface(s).

[0190] The collagen fibrils in a biofabricated material can be tuned to have a particular diameter. The distribution of fibril diameters may exhibit a substantially unimodal distribution, a bimodal distribution, a trimodal distribution or other multimodal distributions. Multimodal distributions may be composed of two or more different preparations of fibrils produced using different fibrillation conditions. In a substantially unimodal distribution >50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95 or 99% of diameters of the fibrils distribute around a single mode. In bimodal distributions at least 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50% of the fibrils will distribute around one mode. In trimodal and other multimodal distributions, generally, at least about 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30% or more (depending on the number of modes) of the fibril diameters will distribute around a mode.

[0191] A biofabricated material may contain fibrils where at least 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, or 99% of the collagen fibrils have diameters between 1 nm and 1 µm . Fibril diameters may be determined by methods known in the art including by visual inspection of micrographs or electron micrographs, such as scanning or transmission electronmicrographs. For example, the collagen fibrils may have a collective average or individual fibril diameter ranging from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, or 1,000 nm (1 µm).

[0192] The collagen fibrils in the biofabricated material described above are usually crosslinked by contact with at least one agent that forms crosslinks between collagen fibrils. Such a crosslinker may be selected from one or more of an amine, carboxylic acid, sulfate, sulfite, sulfonate, aldehyde, hydrazide, sulfhydryl, diazirine, aryl, azide, acrylate, epoxide, phenol, chromium compound, vegetable tannin, and syntan.

[0193] Crosslinking may be performed at a crosslinker concentration ranging from 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 75 to 100 mM and may be conducted under conditions that uniformly expose collagen fibrils to the crosslinker so that the average number of crosslinks formed is uniform and varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 45, or 50% in identical unit volumes of the material.

[0194] A biofabricated material may contain at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10% of a crosslinking agent based on the weight of the material or based on the weight of the collagen or collagen fibrils in the material. The crosslinker may be present in a covalently or non-covalently form, for example, it may be covalently bound to the collagen fibrils. A crosslinker may be uniformly present in the biofabricated material where its concentration by weight (or by mole) varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 45, or 50% in identical unit volumes of the material.

[0195] The biofabricated material or biofabricated leather described above contains a lubricant. Not lubricated materials containing a network of collagen fibrils can be produced, such a precursor substrates for later lubrication, but can lack the flexible and other useful properties of a lubricated product. Lubricants may be incorporated in any amount that facilitates fibril movement or that confers leather-like properties such as flexibility, decrease in brittleness, durability, strength, increase resistance to fracture or tearing, or water resistance. A lubricant content can range from about 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60% by weight of the biofabricated leather.

[0196] Lubricants used in embodiments of the invention include, but are not limited to fats, biological, mineral or synthetic oils, cod oil, sulfonated oil, polymers, resins, organofunctional siloxanes, and other agents used for fatliquoring conventional leather; mixtures thereof. Other lubricants include surfactants, anionic surfactants, cationic surfactants, cationic polymeric surfactants, anionic polymeric surfactants, amphiphilic polymers, fatty acids, modified fatty acids, nonionic hydrophilic polymers, nonionic hydrophobic polymers, poly acrylic acids, poly methacrylic, acrylics, natural rubbers, synthetic rubbers, resins, amphiphilic anionic polymer and copolymers, amphiphilic cationic polymer and copolymers and mixtures thereof as well as emulsions or suspensions of these in water, alcohol, ketones, and other solvents.

[0197] Solutions or emulsions containing a lubricant may be employed as lubricants, for examples, resins and other hydrophobic lubricants may be applied as emulsions or in solvents suitable for dissolving them. Such solutions may contain any amount of the lubricant suitable for application to or incorporation into a biofabricated leather. For example, they may contain 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, or 99% of a lubricant or the same, or a corresponding amount to volume of other ingredients, such as at least one aqueous solvent, such as water, alcohols, such C1-C6 alcohols, like ethanol, ketones, such as C1-C6 ketones, aldehydes, such as C1-C6 aldehydes, waxes, surfactants, dispersants or other agents. Lubricants may be in various forms, such as O/W or W/O emulsions, in aqueous or hydrophobic solutions, in sprayable form, or other forms suitable for incorporation or application to a biofabricated material.

[0198] Lubricants can be distributed uniformly throughout a biofabricated material such that the concentration of the lubricant in identical unit volumes of the material varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 35, 30, 40, or 50% and may be compounded or mixed into forms suitable for uniform application to or into a biofabricated material.

[0199] Some embodiments of a biofabricated product exhibit many advantageous properties similar to leather or new or superior properties compared to conventional leather.

[0200] In other embodiments a biofabricated leather can have an elastic modulus of at least 100 kPa. It can range from 100 kPa to 1,000 MPa as well as any intermediate value in this range, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 50, 100, 1,000 kPa, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, or 100 MPa. It can range from 100 kPa to 1,000 MPa as well as any intermediate value in this range, such as 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 , 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, or 1,000 MPa.

[0201] Some embodiments will exhibit a uniform elasticity, wherein the elastic modulus varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50% when measured at angles differing by 30, 60, or 90 degrees (or at other angles) across identical lengths or widths (or volumes or fixed cross-sectional areas) of the material.

[0202] Some embodiments are stretchable and can be elongated by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250 to 300 % of its length in a relaxed state. This range includes all intermediate values.

[0203] In some embodiments, a biofabricated leather can have a tensile strength of at least 1 kPA. It can range from 1 kPa to 100 MPa as well as any intermediate value in this range, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500kPA; 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, or 100 MPa. Some embodiments will exhibit a uniform tensile strength, wherein the tensile strength varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50% when measured at angles differing by 30, 60, or 90 degrees (or at other angles) across identical lengths or widths (or volumes or fixed cross-sectional areas) of the material.

[0204] Some biofabricated leathers exhibit tear strength or resistance of at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 100, 150 or 200% more than that of a conventional top grain or other leather of the same thickness comprising the same type of collagen, e.g., bovine Type I or Type III collagen, processed using the same crosslinker(s) or lubricants.. Some embodiments will exhibit a uniform tear resistance which varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50% when measured at angles differing by 30, 60, or 90 degrees (or at other angles) across identical lengths or widths (or volumes or fixed cross-sectional areas) of the material. A biofabricated material may have a tear strength ranging from about 1 to 500 N, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275, 300, 325, 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, or 500 as well as any intermediate tear strength within this range.

[0205] A biofabricated leather may have a softness as determined by ISO 17235 of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 mm or more. Some embodiments will exhibit a uniform softness which varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or 100% when measured in otherwise identical unit areas or volumes of the biofabricated material.

[0206] In other embodiments, a biofabricated material exhibits a customized thickness to provide top grain like products without the requirement for corium backing. In some embodiments the material will have a top and bottom surface or an inner and outer surface which have identical or substantially the same grain, grain texture, feel, and appearance. Other embodiments are embossed with a pattern, distressed, or printed, stained or painted. Other embodiments have a surface coating or surface finish, which may be distributed uniformly on or throughout the material such that its concentration by weight in identical unit volumes or over unit areas of the material varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50%. Some embodiments may contain a dye, stain, resin, polymer, pigment or paint, optionally, wherein the dye, stain, resin, polymer, pigment or paint is distributed uniformly throughout the material such that its concentration by weight in identical unit volumes or on unit areas of the material varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50%.

[0207] Certain embodiments of the biofabricated material described above may contain fillers as well as other substances or components incorporated into the network of collagen fibrils. For example, some embodiments will contain a filler, such as at least one of polymeric microsphere(s), bead(s), fiber(s), wire(s), or organic salt(s). These can be selected so as to control the organization of the dehydrated collagen fibril network by keeping the fibrils spaced apart during drying. A filler may be soluble under some conditions or otherwise in a form that permits it removal from a biofabricated material after drying or other processing.

[0208] Other embodiments include at least one woven or nonwoven material incorporated into the network of collagen fibrils or a network of collagen fibers incorporated into the nonwoven or woven material.

[0209] In some embodiments the biofabricated material will be incorporated into other products such as footwear, clothing, sportswear, uniforms, wallets, watchbands, bracelets, luggage, upholstery, or furniture.

EMBODIMENTS OF THE METHOD OF MAKING



[0210] The invention is as defined in the claims.

[0211] The method according to the disclosure includes, but is not limited to, the following embodiments.

[0212] A method for making:
  1. (i) a material comprising a network of non-human collagen fibrils, wherein less than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40% by weight of the collagen fibrils in the material are in the form of collagen fibers having a diameter of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 µm or more and/or are in the form of fibrils aligned for 25, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350 or 400µm or more of their lengths; wherein said material contains no more than 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35,40, 45, 50, 55 or 60% by weight water; and wherein said material contains at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, or 40% of a lubricant, comprising in any order: fibrillating an aqueous solution or suspension of non-human collagen molecules into collagen fibrils, crosslinking said collagen fibrils by contacting them with at least one crosslinking agent, dehydrating the crosslinked collagen fibrils so that they contain less than 40% by weight water, incorporating at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, or 40% by weight of at least one lubricant into said material, and, optionally, casting, molding, or otherwise forming said material that comprises a top and bottom surface or an inner and outer surface; or
  2. (ii) a material comprising a network of recombinant non-human collagen fibrils, wherein the collagen contains substantially no 3-hydroxyproline and, optionally, substantially no hydroxylysine; wherein said material contains no more than 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35,40, 45, 50, 55 or 60% by weight water; and wherein said material contains at least 1% of a lubricant comprising in any order: fibrillating an aqueous solution or suspension of non-human collagen molecules into collagen fibrils, crosslinking said collagen fibrils by contacting them with at least one crosslinking agent, dehydrating the crosslinked collagen fibrils so that they contain no more than 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25% by weight water, and incorporating at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, or 50% by weight of at least one lubricant into said material, and, optionally, casting, molding, or otherwise forming said material that comprises a top and bottom surface or an inner and outer surface.


[0213] The collagen or collagenous material for use in this method may comprise mammalian collagen, such as bovine Type I, Type III collagen or the other types and sources of collagens or collagenous proteins described herein. It may be obtained from a mammal or other animal or, in some embodiments expressed recombinantly by Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, or another bacterium; by Pichia, Saccharomyces, or another yeast or fungi; by a plant cell; by an insect cell or by a mammalian cell.

[0214] Collagen for use in the methods disclosed herein may also be isolated from cells, such as those described above, that are cultured in vitro, such as from cultured mammalian or animal cells. Alternatively, collagen or collagenous proteins may be obtained by other means, such as by chemical synthesis. It may be different in chemical structure from collagen obtained from a natural source, for example, it may contain a lower content of, or substantially no hydroxylysine or 3-hydroxyproline, glycosylated or crosslinked amino acid residues, or other post-translational modifications of a collagen amino acid sequence. Alternatively, it may contain a higher content of hydroxylated amino acid residues, glycosylated residues, crosslinks or other chemical modifications.

[0215] Preferably a collagen will not contain hair, hair follicle(s), or fat(s) of an animal that naturally expresses the collagen molecules it contains as these can detract from its uniformity, strength and aesthetic properties. For example, it may contain less than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10% by weight of actin, keratin, elastin, fibrin, albumin, globulin, mucin, mucinoids, noncollagen structural proteins, and/or noncollagen nonstructural proteins found in conventional leather. It may be substantially free of other collagenous proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, or lipids, or immunogens, antigens, or allergens found in a conventional leather, such as an animal that naturally expresses the collagen molecules in a biofabricated material.

[0216] In some embodiments a collagen or collagen-like material for use in the methods described herein may be purified to substantial homogeneity or may have a degree of purity not inconsistent with its ability to form fibrils, for example, it may contain 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95 or 99% by weight collagen based on its total protein content or based on its total weight. Mixtures of different types of collagen or collagens from different biological sources may be used in certain embodiments to balance the chemical and physical properties of collagen fibrils or to produce a mixture of fibrils having complementary properties. Such mixtures may contain 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 95, or 99% by weight of a first collagen and 99, 95, 90, 75, 50, 25, 10 or 1% by weight of a second, third, or subsequent collagen component. These ranges include all intermediate values and ratios of collagens where the total collagen content of all collagen components by weight is 100%.

[0217] The methods disclosed herein can provide a biofabricated product having substantially uniformly distributed fibrils, crosslinked fibrils, dehydrated fibrils and/or lubricated fibrils. For example, the fibrils may be distributed throughout the material so that the concentration by weight (or by number or average numbers) of the collagen fibrils in identical unit volumes of the material varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50%.

[0218] In some embodiments the biofabricated material will be staking the material after the crosslinking, dehydrating and/or lubricating.

[0219] In the embodiments described herein, a collagen solution or suspension is fibrillated, for example, by adjusting a salt concentration of the solution or suspension, by adjusting its pH, for example, raising the pH of an acidic solution of collagen, or both. In some embodiments, fibrillation may be facilitated by including a nucleating agent. Salts used for fibrillation include but are not limited to phosphate salts and chloride salts, such as Na3PO4, K3PO4, KCI, and NaCl. Salt concentration during fibrillation may be adjusted to range from 10 mM to 2M, or pH may be adjusted to pH 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, 8.0 or more with an acid, a base, or a buffer. Salt concentration and pH may be simultaneously adjusted to induce or promote fibrillation. In certain embodiments of the methods described herein an aqueous solution or suspension of collagen molecules having a pH below pH 6.0 can be fibrillated by adjusting the pH to pH 6.0 to 8.0.

[0220] In some embodiments of the methods described herein, the collagen fibrils will be crosslinked during a process of their formation or after completion of fibrillation.

[0221] In some embodiments, collagen fibrils are crosslinked by contacting them with at least one amine, carboxylic acid, sulfate, sulfite, sulfonate, aldehyde, hydrazide, sulfhydryl, diazirine, aryl, azide, acrylate, epoxide, phenol, chromium compound, vegetable tannin, and syntan.

[0222] One or more crosslinkers may be added at a concentration ranging from 1 mM to 100 mM, for example at a concentration of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 6, 70, 75, 80,85, 90, 95 or 100 mM.

[0223] The time, temperature and other chemical and physical conditions of crosslinking may be selected to provide a particular degree of crosslinking among the collagen fibrils so that the resulting crosslinked fibrils contain a particular degree of one or more different crosslinkages. A resulting crosslinked fibril preparation may contain at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10% or more of a crosslinking agent based on the weight of the crosslinking agent and the weight of the collagen or on the weight of a crosslinked network of collagen fibrils, such as a hydrogel. The crosslinker may be covalently- or non-covalently bound to the collagen fibrils. The numbers of crosslinks between or among collagen molecules, tropocollagen, or fibrils in identical unit volumes of the material after crosslinking, or an average number of crosslinks between collagen molecules, tropocollagen, or collagen fibrils, may vary by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50%.

[0224] The methods described herein require a dehydration or dewatering step which may occur during fibrillation or crosslinking, or both, or after fibrillation and crosslinking are substantially complete.

[0225] In some embodiments, dehydrating involves contacting a network of collagen fibrils with acetone, syntan, or other agent that removes bound water from collagen. In other embodiments, some water may be removed from a fibril preparation or crosslinked fibril preparation by filtration or evaporation and water remaining associated with the network of collagen fibrils then removed using a solvent such as acetone or other chemical agents that remove water.

[0226] The methods described herein generally require lubrication of the network of collagen fibrils produced. Lubrication may take place during fibrillation, crosslinking, or dehydration, or during any of these steps, or after one or more of these steps is substantially complete.

[0227] In some embodiments lubrication will involve contacting a network of crosslinked collagen fibrils with one or more lubricants such as fats, biological, mineral or synthetic oils, cod oil, sulfonated oil, polymers, organofunctional siloxanes, and other agent used for fatliquoring conventional leather; or mixtures thereof.

[0228] In other embodiments, lubricant(s) will be applied using methods that facilitate uniform lubrication of a dehydrated crosslinked network of collagen fibrils, so that the concentration of the lubricant by weight in identical unit volumes of the material varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50%. Such application may occur by dip-coating, spray-coating, vapor deposition, spin-coating, Doctor Blade coating, brush coating as well as other known coating or deposition methods.

[0229] In further embodiments of the methods described herein, a surface coating or surface finish is applied to a biofabricated material. While these may be applied to a surface of a material comprising a network of collagen fibrils during the various steps of the preparation of a biofabricated material, they will generally be applied to a crosslinked, dehydrated and lubricated product. The uniform lubrication made possible by the methods described herein facilitate the successful uniform application and adherence of such coatings or finishes.

[0230] In other embodiments, the methods described herein can include incorporating or contacting a biofabricated material during the various steps of its preparation or after it has been crosslinked, dehydrated and lubricated with other functional ingredients including, but not limited to a dye, stain, pigment, resin, polymer, or paint. In further embodiments, these functional ingredients may be applied or incorporated under conditions that uniformly distribute these agents on or throughout the material so that their concentration by weight in identical unit volumes of the material varies by no more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50%.

[0231] In other embodiments, the method described herein involves incorporating a filler into a biofabricated material during the various steps of its preparation or after it has been crosslinked, dehydrated and lubricated. Generally, these fillers are incorporated prior to dehydration, for example, during fibrillation or crosslinking. Such fillers include, but are not limited to polymeric microspheres, beads, fibers, wires, or organic salts.

[0232] Some embodiments of the methods described above will involve incorporating into or onto a biofabricated material during or after its preparation at least one woven or nonwoven material. For example, by filtering crosslinked fibrils using a woven or nonwoven paper or fabric material. Other embodiments involve incorporating a biofabricated material during or after its preparation into at least one woven or nonwoven material.

[0233] Commercial embodiments of the method involving incorporating a biofabricated material into products such as footwear, clothing, sportswear, uniforms, wallets, watchbands, bracelets, luggage, upholstery, furniture, or other industrial, commercial or consumer products.

[0234] The following non-limiting Examples are illustrative of the present invention. The scope of the invention is not limited to the details described in these Examples.

EXAMPLE 1


Controlling the thickness of biofabricated leather



[0235] Hydrogels of extracted bovine type I collagen were formed at different collagen concentrations and volumes to produce dried collagen materials of different thicknesses. Collagen was dissolved in 0.01N HCI at either 5 g/L or 9 g/L, then 1 part 10x PBS was added to 9 parts dissolved collagen to induce collagen fibrillation and gel formation.

[0236] Solutions of either 0.8 L or 1.6 L of the fibrillating collagen were then cast into molds and incubated at 25°C to allow hydrogel formation. The 0.8L solution produced a gel of 1.5 cm thickness while the 1. 7L solution produced a gel of 3.0 cm thickness. These gels were dehydrated and lubricated in acetone, then dried and mechanically staked into a leather like material. The thickness of the final dried material correlated with the total amount of collagen in the starting hydrogel.

[0237] The thickness of biofabricated leather was controlled by varying its total collagen content. Samples A, B and C were produced using 4, 7.2 or 14.4 gr of collagen, respectively, in a volume (hydrated gel area) of 525 cm2. Biofabricated leathers were produced from each sample by crosslinking, lubricating and dewatering As shown in Table 1, increasing the content of collagen in the gels increased the thickness of the resulting biofabricated leather.
Table 1
SampleGel Density (g/L)Gel Volume (L)Gel Thickness (cm)Total Collagen (g)Leather Thickness (mm)
A 5 0.8 1.5 4 0.1
B 9 0.8 1.5 7.2 0.2
C 9 1.6 3.0 14.4 1.1

EXAMPLE 2


Production of Biofabricated Leather from Type I Collagen



[0238] Type I collagen was purchased from Wuxi Biot Bio-technology Company, ltd. (Medical Collagen Sponge). The collagen was isolated from bovine tendon by acid treatment followed by pepsin digestion, and was purified by size exclusion chromatography, frozen and lyophilized.

[0239] The lyophilized protein (4.1 g) was dissolved in 733 ml 0.01 N HCL using an overhead mixer. After the collagen was adequately dissolved, as evidenced by a lack of solid collagen sponge in the solution (at least 1hr mixing at 1600 rpm), 82uL of the tanning agent Relugan GTW was added to the solution followed by 81mL of a 10x PBS, pH 11.2 to raise the pH of the solution to 7.2.

[0240] The solution was then mixed for 3 min before pouring the solution into a silicon mold. The collagen solution was incubated in the silicon mold for 2 hrs at 25°C to allow the collagen to fibrillate into a viscoelastic hydrogel.

[0241] Plateau of rheological properties along with solution opacity (as measured by absorbance of 425 nm light) indicated that fibrillation was complete at this point and the presence of collagen fibrils was confirmed with scanning electron microscopy (FIG. 3) and transmission electron microscopy (FIG. 4).

[0242] The fibrillated collagen hydrogel was removed from the molds and placed in 700mL of acetone in a plastic jar and shaken on an orbital shaker at 40 rpm at 25°C. The hydrogel was dehydrated by refreshing the acetone after an overnight incubation followed by 5x 1hr washes and another overnight incubation. Acetone was refreshed after each wash to remove water from the gel.

[0243] Following acetone dehydration, the collagen gel was incubated in a fat liquor solution containing 20% (v/v) of either cod liver oil or castor oil in 80% acetone or ethanol, respectively, overnight while shaking at 40rpm.

[0244] Following incubation in the fat liquor solution, the collagen gel was dried at 37C. After drying, the material became soft and leather-like or a biofabricated leather. Excess oil can be removed to improve the leather-like aesthetic of the materials.

[0245] The biofabricated leather had a grain texture on both the top and bottom surfaces and consistently absorbed dyes on both the top and bottom surfaces.

EXAMPLE 3


Production of Biofabricated Leather from Type III Collagen



[0246] A solution of recombinant collagen type III at 2.5 mg/ml in 0.01 N HCI (FibroGen, Inc.) was fibrillated by adding 1 part of a 200 mM of sodium phosphate solution (22mL), pH 11.2 to 9 parts of the collagen solution (200mL) to increase the pH to 7 and stirred 2 hours at room temperature.

[0247] Fibrillation was confirmed by measuring 400nm absorbance of the solution over time.

[0248] After fibrillation, the fibrils were tanned by adding Relugan GTW (2% w/w offer on the collagen) to the fibril suspension and mixing for 30 min.

[0249] The tanned collagen fibrils were then centrifuged at 3,500 RPM for 30 minutes to concentrate the fibrils to a concentration of 10 mg/ml . The 10 mg/ml fibril pellet was further centrifuged using an ultra-centrifuge at 21,000 RPM for 30 minutes yielding a fibril gel with a concentration of 40-50 mg/ml .

[0250] The physical properties of the fibril gel were assessed with a rheometer.

[0251] The storage modulus and complex viscosity demonstrate a mostly elastic material.

[0252] This fibril gel was then dried in a food dehydrator set to 37°C for 18hrs.

[0253] After drying, the material was dyed and retanned by incubating in a solution of Lowepel acid black dye (2% w/w offer on the collagen) and Lubritan WP (20% w/w offer on the collagen).

[0254] The material was drummed in this solution and squeezed to ensure penetration of dye and syntan into the material. The material was then finally dried and staked to produce a leather-like material.

EXAMPLE 4


Production of Biofabricated Leather from Type III Collagen



[0255] Recombinant collagen type III was purchased from Fibrogen, Inc. The collagen was supplied at a concentration of 2.5mg/mL in 0.01N HCl.

[0256] To initiate the assembly of collagen fibrils, 1 part 200mM Na2HPO4, pH 11.2 (100mL) was added to 9 parts of the stock collagen type III solution at room temperature to bring the solution to pH 7.2. The solution was mixed at 1600rpm for 1hr using an overhead mixer.

[0257] After 1 hr of stirring, the collagen fibrils were reacted with Relugan GTW which was added to the solution at a 2% (w/w) offer on the mass of the collagen. The solution was mixed at 1600rpm for 1hr using an overhead mixer.

[0258] Lipoderm A1 and Tanigan FT were then added to the solution at offers of 80% (w/w) each on the mass of the collagen. The solution was mixed at 1600rpm for 30min using an overhead mixer. The pH of the solution was then lowered to 4 using a 10% (v/v) formic acid solution. The solution was mixed at 1600rpm for 30min using an overhead mixer.

[0259] 144mL of the solution was then filtered through a 47mm Whatman no. 1 membrane using a Buchner funnel attached to a vacuum pump (pressure of -27 in Hg) and a rubber dam on top of the Buchner funnel. Vacuum was pulled for 18hrs.

[0260] The concentrated fibril tissue was then allowed to dry under ambient conditions and hand staked for 30min by rolling, bending and pulling the material to produce a leather-like material.

EXAMPLE 5


Expancell



[0261] Type I bovine collagen, isolated from bovine tendon by acid treatment followed by pepsin digestion and purified by size exclusion chromatography, frozen and lyophilized, was purchased from Wuxi Biot Bio-technology co., Ltd. (Medical Collagen Sponge).

[0262] Using an overhead mixer, 10 gr of the lyophilized collagen protein was dissolved by mixing at 1,600 rpm in 1 L of 0.01N HCI, pH 2, for at least one hour until no solid collagen sponge was present.

[0263] 111.1 ml of 200 mM sodium phosphate (pH adjusted to 11.2 with sodium hydroxide) was then added to raise the pH of the collagen solution to 7.2.

[0264] The pH 7.2 collagen solution was then stirred for 10 minutes and 0.1 ml of a 20% Relugan GTW (BASF) as a crosslinker, which was 2% on the weight of collagen, was added to produce crosslinked collagen fibrils.

[0265] The crosslinked collagen fibrils were then mixed with 5 ml of 20% Tanigan FT (Lanxess) and stirred for one hour.

[0266] Subsequently, 1 gr of Expancel Microspheres 461 WE 20 d36 (AkzoNobel), which is 10% of the weight of the collagen) and 40 ml of Truposol Ben (Trumpler), which is 80% of the weight of the collagen, were added and stirred for an additional hour using an overhead stirrer.

[0267] The pH of the solution was the reduced to pH 4.0 by addition of 10% formic acid and stirred for an hour.

[0268] After the reduction in pH, 150 ml of the solution was filtered through 90 mm Whatman No.1 membrane using a Buchner funnel attached to a vacuum pump at a pressure of -27 mmHg.

[0269] The concentrated fibril tissue was then allowed to dry under ambient conditions and hand staked for 30 minutes by rolling, bending and pulling the material to produce a leather-like material.

EXAMPLE 6


Titanium Dioxide (White Pigment)



[0270] Type I bovine collagen was purchased from Wuxi Biot Bio-technology co., Ltd. (Medical Collagen Sponge). This source of collagen is type I collagen isolated from bovine tendon by acid treatment followed by pepsin digestion and purified by size exclusion chromatography, frozen and lyophilized. The lyophilized protein (10 grams) was dissolved in 1 L of 0.01N HCl, pH 2 using an overhead mixer. After the collagen was adequately dissolved, as evidenced by a lack of solid collagen sponge in the solution (at least 1hr mixing at 1,600 rpm), 111.1 ml of 200 millimolar sodium phosphate (pH adjusted to 11.2 with sodium hydroxide) to raise the pH of the solution to 7.2. The resulting collagen solution was stirred for 10 minutes and 0.1 ml of a 20% Relugan GTW (BASF) crosslinker solution, which was 2% on the weight of collagen.

[0271] To the crosslinked collagen fibril solution was added 5 mls of 20% Tanigan FT (Lanxess) was added followed by stirring for one hour.

[0272] Following Tanigan-FT addition, 1 gr Expancel Microspheres (10% on the weight of collagen) 461 WE 20 d36 (AkzoNobel) ,40 mls (80% on the weight of collagen) of Truposol Ben (Trumpler) and 2 mls (10% on the weight of collagen) of PPE White HS a pa (Stahl) was added and stirred for additional hour using an overhead stirrer.

[0273] The pH of the solution was reduced to 4.0 using 10% formic acid and stirred for an hour.

[0274] After pH change, 150 ml of the solution was filtered through 90 mM Whatman No.1 membrane using a Buchner funnel attached to a vacuum pump at a pressure of -27 mmHg.

[0275] The concentrated fibril tissue was then allowed to dry under ambient conditions and hand staked for 30 minutes by rolling, bending and pulling the material to produce a leather-like material.

EXAMPLE 7


Hycar Resin (26552)



[0276] Bovine collagen was purchased from Wuxi Biot Bio-technology co., Ltd. (Medical Collagen Sponge). This source of collagen is type I collagen isolated from bovine tendon by acid treatment followed by pepsin digestion and purified by size exclusion chromatography, frozen and lyophilized.

[0277] The lyophilized protein (10 grams) was dissolved in 1 litre of 0.01N HCl, pH 2 using an overhead mixer. After the collagen was adequately dissolved, as evidenced by a lack of solid collagen sponge in the solution (at least 1hr mixing at 1600 rpm), 111.1 ml of 200 mM sodium phosphate (pH adjusted to 11.2 with sodium hydroxide) to raise the pH of the solution to 7.2.

[0278] The resulting collagen solution was stirred for 10 minutes and 0.1 ml of a 20% Relugan GTW (BASF) crosslinker solution , which was 2% of the weight of the collagen, tanning agent solution was added.

[0279] To the crosslinked collagen fibril solution was added 5 mls of 20% Tanigan FT (Lanxess) was added and stirred for one hour. Following Tanigan-FT addition, 1 gram Expancel Microspheres (10% on the weight of collagen) 461 WE 20 d36 (AkzoNobel) ,40 mls (80% on the weight of collagen) of Truposol Ben (Trumpler) and 2 mls (10% on the weight of collagen) of PPE White HS a pa (Stahl) was added and added and stirred for additional hour using an overhead stirrer

[0280] The pH of the solution was reduced to 4.0 using 10% formic acid and a variety of offers of Hycar Resin 26552 (Lubrizol) was added and stirred for an additional hour. Following pH change and resin addition 150 ml of the solution was filtered through 90 millimeter Whatman No.1 membrane using a Buchner funnel attached to a vacuum pump at a pressure of -27 mmHg. To facilitate activation, the Hycar Resin 26552 is mixed with the fibril solution and heated at 50°C for 2 hrs.

[0281] The concentrated fibril tissue was then allowed to dry under ambient conditions and hand staked for 30 minutes by rolling, bending and pulling the material to produce a leather-like material. The addition of resin lead to improved mechanical properties as shown below in FIG. 1.
ExampleSubstratesCrosslinkerDehydraterLubricantResult
5 Type I collagen + ExpandCell microspheres Relugan GTW Tanigan FT Truposol Leather-like material
6 " " " " Leather-like material
7 " " " " Leather-like material, better mechanical properties


[0282] Relugan is a retanning agent based on polymer, resin or aldehyde. Tanigan is a sulfone-based syntan. Truposol Ben is a fatliquor for chrome-free leather. Lipoderm Liquor A1 is a fatliquor based on long chain alcohol, paraffin, anionic surfactants, in water Hycar Resin 26552: formaldehyde-free acrylic based emulsion

INTERPRETATION OF DESCRIPTION



[0283] Terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the invention. For example, as used herein, the singular forms "a", "an" and "the" are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms "comprises" and/or "comprising," when used in this specification, specify the presence of stated features, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, steps, operations, elements, components, and/or groups thereof. As used herein, the term "and/or" includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items and may be abbreviated as "/".

[0284] Spatially relative terms, such as "under", "below", "lower", "over", "upper" and the like, may be used herein for ease of description to describe one element or feature's relationship to another element(s) or feature(s) as illustrated in the figures. It will be understood that the spatially relative terms are intended to encompass different orientations of the device in use or operation in addition to the orientation depicted in the figures. For example, if a device in the figures is inverted, elements described as "under" or "beneath" other elements or features would then be oriented "over" the other elements or features. Thus, the exemplary term "under" can encompass both an orientation of over and under. The device may be otherwise oriented (rotated 90 degrees or at other orientations) and the spatially relative descriptors used herein interpreted accordingly. Similarly, the terms "upwardly", "downwardly", "vertical", "horizontal" and the like are used herein for the purpose of explanation only unless specifically indicated otherwise.

[0285] Although the terms "first" and "second" may be used herein to describe various features/elements (including steps), these features/elements should not be limited by these terms, unless the context indicates otherwise. These terms may be used to distinguish one feature/element from another feature/element. Thus, a first feature/element discussed below could be termed a second feature/element, and similarly, a second feature/element discussed below could be termed a first feature/element without departing from the teachings of the present invention.

[0286] Throughout this specification and the claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise", and variations such as "comprises" and "comprising" means various components can be co-jointly employed in the methods and articles (e.g., compositions and apparatuses including device and methods). For example, the term "comprising" will be understood to imply the inclusion of any stated elements or steps but not the exclusion of any other elements or steps.

[0287] As used herein in the specification and claims, including as used in the examples and unless otherwise expressly specified, all numbers may be read as if prefaced by the word "substantially", "about" or "approximately," even if the term does not expressly appear. The terms "substantially", "substantially no", "substantially free", "about" or "approximately" may be used when describing magnitude and/or position to indicate that the value and/or position described is within a reasonable expected range of values and/or positions. For example, a numeric value may have a value that is +/- 0.1% of the stated value (or range of values), +/-1% of the stated value (or range of values), +/- 2% of the stated value (or range of values), +/- 5% of the stated value (or range of values), +/- 10% of the stated value (or range of values), etc. Any numerical range recited herein is intended to include all sub-ranges subsumed therein.

[0288] When a feature or element is herein referred to as being "on" another feature or element, it can be directly on the other feature or element or intervening features and/or elements may also be present. In contrast, when a feature or element is referred to as being "directly on" another feature or element, there are no intervening features or elements present. It will also be understood that, when a feature or element is referred to as being "connected", "attached" or "coupled" to another feature or element, it can be directly connected, attached or coupled to the other feature or element or intervening features or elements may be present. In contrast, when a feature or element is referred to as being "directly connected", "directly attached" or "directly coupled" to another feature or element, there are no intervening features or elements present. Although described or shown with respect to one embodiment, the features and elements so described or shown can apply to other embodiments. It will also be appreciated by those of skill in the art that references to a structure or feature that is disposed "adjacent" another feature may have portions that overlap or underlie the adjacent feature.

[0289] Although various illustrative embodiments are described above, any of a number of changes may be made to various embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention as described by the claims. For example, the order in which various described method steps are performed may often be changed in alternative embodiments, and in other alternative embodiments one or more method steps may be skipped altogether. Optional features of various device and system embodiments may be included in some embodiments and not in others. Therefore, the foregoing description is provided primarily for exemplary purposes and should not be interpreted to limit the scope of the invention as it is set forth in the claims.

[0290] The examples and illustrations included herein show, by way of illustration and not of limitation, specific embodiments in which the subject matter may be practiced. As mentioned, other embodiments may be utilized and derived there from, such that structural and logical substitutions and changes may be made without departing from the scope of this disclosure. The invention is as defined in the claims.

SEQUENCE LISTING



[0291] 

<110> Modern Meadow, Inc.

<120> BIOFABRICATED MATERIAL CONTAINING COLLAGEN FIBRILS

<130> 500566WO

<150> US 62/295,435
<151> 2016-02-15

<160> 3

<170> PatentIn version 3.5

<210> 1
<211> 1463
<212> PRT
<213> Bos taurus

<220>
<221> MISC_FEATURE
<222> (1)..(1463)
<223> collagen alpha-1(I) chain precursor

<400> 1













<210> 2
<211> 1364
<212> PRT
<213> Bos taurus

<220>
<221> MISC_FEATURE
<222> (1)..(1364)
<223> collagen alpha-2(I) chain precursor

<400> 2













<210> 3
<211> 1466
<212> PRT
<213> Bos taurus

<220>
<221> MISC_FEATURE
<222> (1)..(1466)
<223> collagen alpha-1(III) chain precursor

<400> 3
















Claims

1. A biofabricated material

(i) comprising a network of non-human collagen fibrils,
wherein less than 10% by weight of the collagen fibrils in the material are in the form of collagen fibers having a diameter of 5 µm or more, are in the form of fibrils aligned for 100 µm or more of their lengths, or both;
wherein the collagen fibrils are not assembled into bundles of fibers;
wherein said material contains no more than 40% by weight water;
wherein said material contains at least 1% of a lubricant; and
wherein said material does not contain actin or

(ii) comprising a network of recombinant non-human collagen fibrils, wherein the collagen contains no hydroxylysine;
wherein said material contains no more than 25% by weight water; and
wherein said material contains at least 1% of a lubricant.


 
2. The material according to claim 1, wherein said material is (i).
 
3. The material of claim 2, wherein the collagen is recombinant collagen that contains substantially no 3-hydroxyproline.
 
4. The material according to claim 1, wherein said material is (ii).
 
5. The material according to claim 4, wherein less than 10% by weight of the collagen fibrils in the material are in the form of collagen fibers having a diameter of 5 µm or more, are in the form of fibrils aligned for 100 µm or more of their lengths, or both.
 
6. The material according to claim 1 that has a top and bottom surface or an inner and outer surface.
 
7. The material of claim 1, wherein the collagen comprises bovine Type I or Type III collagen.
 
8. The material of claim 1 that contains substantially no hair, hair follicle(s), or animal fat.
 
9. The material of claim 1 that contains no more than 1% by weight of keratin, elastin, fibrin, albumin, globulin, mucin, mucinoids, noncollagen structural protein, and/or noncollagen nonstructural protein.
 
10. The material according to claim 1, wherein the diameters of fibrils in the material exhibit a substantially unimodal distribution wherein at least 70% of the diameters of the fibrils in the material distribute around a single mode of diameter.
 
11. The material according to claim 1, wherein the at least one lubricant is selected from the group consisting of at least one fat, biological, mineral or synthetic oil, sulfonated oil, polymer, and organofunctional siloxane.
 
12. The material according to claim 1, further comprising a surface coating or surface finish; wherein the surface coating or surface finish is distributed uniformly throughout the material such that its concentration by weight in or on identical unit volumes of the material varies by no more than 20%.
 
13. The material according to claim 1, further comprising a dye, stain, resin, polymer, pigment or paint, wherein the dye, stain, resin, pigment or paint is distributed uniformly throughout the material such that its concentration by weight in or on identical unit volumes of the material varies by no more than 20%.
 
14. The material according to claim 1 that further comprises at least one filler; wherein the filler is distributed uniformly throughout the material such that its concentration by weight in or on identical unit volumes of the material varies by no more than 20%.
 


Ansprüche

1. Biologisch hergestelltes Material,

(i) das ein Netzwerk aus nicht-menschlichen Kollagenfibrillen umfasst,
wobei weniger als 10 Gew.-% der Kollagenfibrillen in dem Material in der Form von Kollagenfasern mit einem Durchmesser von 5 µm oder mehr, in der Form von Fibrillen, die für 100 µm oder mehr ihrer Längen ausgerichtet sind, oder beidem vorliegen;
wobei die Kollagenfibrillen nicht zu Bündeln von Fasern vereinigt sind;
wobei das Material nicht mehr als 40 Gew.-% Wasser enthält;
wobei das Material mindestens 1 % eines Schmiermittels enthält; und
wobei das Material kein Aktin enthält; oder

(ii) das ein Netzwerk aus rekombinanten nicht-menschlichen Kollagenfibrillen umfasst, wobei das Kollagen kein Hydroxylysin enthält;
wobei das Material nicht mehr als 25 Gew.-% Wasser enthält; und
wobei das Material mindestens 1 % eines Schmiermittels enthält.


 
2. Material nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Material (i) ist.
 
3. Material nach Anspruch 2, wobei das Kollagen rekombinantes Kollagen ist, das im Wesentlichen kein 3-Hydroxyprolin enthält.
 
4. Material nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Material (ii) ist.
 
5. Material nach Anspruch 4, wobei weniger als 10 Gew.-% der Kollagenfibrillen in dem Material in der Form von Kollagenfasern mit einem Durchmesser von 5 µm oder mehr, in der Form von Fibrillen, die für 100 µm oder mehr ihrer Längen ausgerichtet sind, oder beidem vorliegen.
 
6. Material nach Anspruch 1, das eine obere und untere Oberfläche oder eine innere und äußere Oberfläche aufweist.
 
7. Material nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Kollagen Typ I- oder Typ III-Kollagen vom Rind umfasst.
 
8. Material nach Anspruch 1, das im Wesentlichen kein(e) Haar, Haarfollikel oder tierisches Fett enthält.
 
9. Material nach Anspruch 1, das nicht mehr als 1 Gew.-% Keratin, Elastin, Fibrin, Albumin, Globulin, Mucin, Mucinoide, Nicht-Kollagen-Strukturprotein und/oder Nicht-Kollagen-nicht-Strukturprotein enthält.
 
10. Material nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Durchmesser von Fibrillen in dem Material eine im Wesentlichen unimodale Verteilung aufweisen, wobei mindestens 70 % der Durchmesser der Fibrillen in dem Material um einen einzelnen Durchmessermodus verteilt sind.
 
11. Material nach Anspruch 1, wobei das mindestens eine Schmiermittel aus der Gruppe, bestehend aus mindestens einem Fett, einem biologischen Öl, Mineralöl oder synthetischen Öl, einem sulfonierten Öl, einem Polymer und einem organofunktionellen Siloxan, ausgewählt ist.
 
12. Material nach Anspruch 1, das ferner eine Oberflächenbeschichtung oder ein Oberflächenfertigbearbeitungsmittel umfasst; wobei die Oberflächenbeschichtung oder das Oberflächenfertigbearbeitungsmittel derart einheitlich in dem Material verteilt ist, dass deren oder dessen Konzentration, bezogen auf das Gewicht, in oder auf identischen Einheitsvolumina des Materials um nicht mehr als 20 % variiert.
 
13. Material nach Anspruch 1, das ferner einen Farbstoff, eine Beize, ein Harz, ein Polymer, ein Pigment oder ein Anstrichmittel umfasst, wobei der Farbstoff, die Beize, das Harz, das Pigment oder das Anstrichmittel derart einheitlich in dem Material verteilt ist, dass die Konzentration davon, bezogen auf das Gewicht, in oder auf identischen Einheitsvolumina des Materials um nicht mehr als 20 % variiert.
 
14. Material nach Anspruch 1, das ferner mindestens einen Füllstoff umfasst, wobei der Füllstoff derart einheitlich in dem Material verteilt ist, dass dessen Konzentration, bezogen auf das Gewicht, in oder auf identischen Einheitsvolumina des Materials um nicht mehr als 20% variiert.
 


Revendications

1. Matériau biofabriqué

(i) comprenant un réseau de fibrilles de collagène non humain,
dans lequel moins de 10 % en poids des fibrilles de collagène dans le matériau sont sous la forme de fibres de collagène ayant un diamètre de 5 µm ou plus, sont sous la forme de fibrilles alignées sur 100 µm ou plus de leurs longueurs, ou les deux ;
dans lequel les fibrilles de collagène ne sont pas assemblées en faisceaux de fibres ; dans lequel ledit matériau ne contient pas plus de 40 % en poids d'eau ;
dans lequel ledit matériau contient au moins 1 % d'un lubrifiant ; et
dans lequel ledit matériau ne contient pas d'actine, ou

(ii) comprenant un réseau de fibrilles de collagène non humain recombinant, dans lequel le collagène ne contient pas d'hydroxylysine ;
dans lequel ledit matériau ne contient pas plus de 25 % en poids d'eau ; et
dans lequel ledit matériau contient au moins 1 % d'un lubrifiant.


 
2. Matériau selon la revendication 1, ledit matériau étant (i).
 
3. Matériau selon la revendication 2, dans lequel le collagène est un collagène recombinant qui ne contient pratiquement pas de 3-hydroxyproline.
 
4. Matériau selon la revendication 1, ledit matériau étant (ii).
 
5. Matériau selon la revendication 4, dans lequel moins de 10% en poids des fibrilles de collagène dans le matériau sont sous la forme de fibres de collagène ayant un diamètre de 5 µm ou plus, sont sous la forme de fibrilles alignées sur 100 µm ou plus de leurs longueurs, ou les deux.
 
6. Matériau selon la revendication 1, qui a une surface du haut et du bas ou une surface interne et externe.
 
7. Matériau selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le collagène comprend du collagène bovin de type I ou de type III.
 
8. Matériau selon la revendication 1, qui ne contient pratiquement pas de poils, de follicule(s) pileux ou de matière grasse animale.
 
9. Matériau selon la revendication 1, qui ne contient pas plus de 1% en poids de kératine, d'élastine, de fibrine, d'albumine, de globuline, de mucine, de mucinoïdes, de protéine structurale non collagénique et/ou de protéine non structurale non collagénique.
 
10. Matériau selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les diamètres des fibrilles dans le matériau présentent une distribution essentiellement unimodale dans laquelle au moins 70% des diamètres des fibrilles dans le matériau se distribuent autour d'un diamètre monomodal.
 
11. Matériau selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit au moins un lubrifiant est choisi dans le groupe constitué par au moins une matière grasse, une huile biologique, minérale ou synthétique, une huile sulfonée, un polymère et un siloxane organo-fonctionnel.
 
12. Matériau selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un revêtement de surface ou une finition de surface ; dans lequel le revêtement de surface ou la finition de surface est distribué(e) uniformément à travers tout le matériau de sorte que sa concentration en poids dans ou sur des volumes unitaires identiques du matériau ne varie pas de plus que 20 %.
 
13. Matériau selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un colorant, une teinte, une résine, un polymère, un pigment ou une peinture, dans lequel le colorant, la teinte, la résine, le pigment ou la peinture est distribué(e) uniformément à travers tout le matériau de sorte que sa concentration en poids dans ou sur des volumes unitaires identiques du matériau ne varie pas de plus que 20 %.
 
14. Matériau selon la revendication 1, qui comprend en outre au moins une charge ; dans lequel la charge est distribuée uniformément à travers tout le matériau de sorte que sa concentration en poids dans ou sur des volumes unitaires identiques du matériau ne varie pas de plus que 20 %.
 




Drawing

















Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description




Non-patent literature cited in the description