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You might be asking, “Don’t chemicals already have names? Why do they need another?” That’s a good question. There's also a good answer.
B-silk™ protein, our proprietary polypeptide, finally has an official INCI name. Lindsay Wray, our Chief Science Officer, gives us the low-down on what an INCI name means, how we got ours, and why it matters.
Exciting news: B-silk™ protein has officially received an INCI name! Meet sr-Wasp Spider Polypeptide-1 Oligopeptide-178.
Not as excited as I am? Stay with me. Learning how to read an INCI name is essential to understanding what’s in your products. Read on to learn why.
What does INCI stand for ?
INCI (pronounced “inky”) stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. INCI names are chosen by the International Nomenclature Committee (INC) and published by the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC). INCI names are a systematic way to label chemicals specifically for the cosmetic industry. You might be asking, “Don’t chemicals already have names? Why do they need another?” That’s a good question. There’s also a good answer.
Why do INCI names exist?
INCI names ensure there is only one name for each ingredient worldwide. According to Rachel Quirk, our Associate Director of Quality & Regulatory (who had a hand in this process from start to finish), “All countries accept and most expect ingredients to be listed using their INCI name. Why? If an ingredient goes by multiple names, it can be hard to keep track of all the scientific information associated with an ingredient. It also becomes hard to track the regulatory and safety status of an ingredient.”
INCI names make it easy for consumers, the cosmetic industry, and the medical community to identify ingredients, no matter where they come from. This is particularly important for consumers with allergies, or those who avoid certain ingredients for ethical reasons.
How did b-silk™ protein get an INCI name? “INCI asks for a LOT of information in the application,” Rachel told us. “We had to provide the chemical structure, compositional information, and a detailed step-by-step of the manufacturing method. For peptides, they ask for additional information, including the full peptide sequence.”
So, what does sr-Wasp Spider Polypeptide-1 Oligopeptide-178 mean?
How did we get the name sr-Wasp Spider Polypeptide-1 Oligopeptide-178? Let’s break it down.
“Sr-” stands for “synthetic recombinant.” “Recombinant” means our silk was made by recombining the silk DNA sequence you find in spiders with the DNA of our fermentation organism (in our case, a yeast). “Synthetic” means we did not use a perfect copy of the natural DNA; we shortened it a bit for optimal performance.
“Wasp Spider” is the common name for Argiope bruennichi, the spider species that makes b-silk™ protein in nature. Why did we choose this spider silk to model our b-silk™ protein after? The wasp spider evolved to make a very special silk, one that hits the sweet spot for being strong but also elastic, effectively combining the powers of collagen and elastin into one.
A quick digression: We were excited to get the “wasp spider” designation. After all, you couldn’t ask for a more badass set of bugs as a namesake! However, we were a little surprised that a very important word is missing from the name: silk. Spiders make a lot of different proteins (like venom, for example). How is a consumer to know that our ingredient comes from spider silk and not another spider protein?
Secondly, there doesn’t seem to be much consistency behind how animal names are assigned to proteins. Sometimes INC uses the common name (as in our case), but other times they use the latin name. Even then, the latin name can come from different levels within the taxonomic ranking. As the role of an INCI name is to provide transparency for the consumer, these two points may add confusion.
“Polypeptide-1” means that our protein has more than 100 amino acids, which makes b-silk™ protein a high molecular weight protein. This is what sets b-silk™ protein apart from hydrolyzed silk, which is commonly found in cosmetics. We are “-1” because we are the first polypeptide inspired by wasp spider to apply for an INCI name.
Finally, “Oligopeptide-178” indicates that we have a small sequence on the end of our protein that was not derived from spider. This is less than 100 amino acids long. We are the 178th oligopeptide to get an INCI name.
We’re proud to have an INCI name because it shows our commitment to transparency and our dedication to innovation. And that drive to innovate is what makes us at Eighteen B who we are.
Want to learn more about how we created b-silk™ protein? We thought you’d never ask. Click here for the full story.
Do you have questions for Lindsay? Comments? Topics you want us to cover? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.