Sustainable Skincare from Suizenji Nori Blue-Green Algae—DIC & Green Science Materials Leverage SACRAN™ Moisture-Retention Effects DIC reinforces algae cultivation to expand healthcare and personal care product lineups

  • R&D
  • News Release
Mar. 25, 2021
#SDGs #ESG #Sustainability #Biotech #algae #healthcare #personalcare

Tokyo, Japan—DIC Corporation has coupled with Kumamoto-based biotech venture Green Science Materials, Inc. (GSM). GSM—which has already successfully commercialized the polysaccharide SACRAN™, extracted from Suizenji Nori blue-green algae—is developing Suizenji Nori cultivation technology for the mass production of SACRAN™ on a global scale.

DIC General Manager New Business Development Headquarters Kiyofumi Takano said, “Microalgae contain the power to change the skincare industry, and even serve as nutritional supplements that are low in saturated fat. As microalgae offer cheaper and greener solutions, increasing algae-based compound use and replacing petroleum-based materials with algae-based materials can reduce carbon emissions, enhancing sustainability.”

Suizenji Nori (scientific name: Aphanothece sacrum or ‘sacred cyanobacteria’) is a rare edible freshwater blue-green alga indigenous to Japan. In fact, Suizenji Nori grows naturally only in subterranean freshwater around Mount Aso on the island of Kyushu—more precisely, only in and around the Kogane River in Asakura City in south central Fukuoka Prefecture.

The Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), a postgraduate university established in 1990, in Ishikawa Science Park, in Nomi, Ishikawa, Japan, offers advanced research and development programs in science and technology, notably microalgae.

In 2006, having observed that Suizenji Nori secretes significant amounts of a gelatinous substance of into its extracellular matrix, two JAIST researchers, Dr. Maiko Okajima and Professor Tatsuo Kaneko, succeeded in extracting that substance—the polysaccharide they named SACRAN™.

On April 1, 2007, JAIST established Green Science Materials, Inc. (GSM), the first company in the world to successfully commercialize SACRAN™. GSM is committed to Suizenji Nori conservation, the sustainable cultivation of Suizenji Nori cyanobacteria, and the successful commercialization of JAIST research achievements in SACRAN™ extraction.

SACRAN™ is a macromolecular polysaccharide secreted by Suizenji Nori to protect its cells in freshwater. Even when extracted from Suizenji Nori, SACRAN™ boasts outstanding moisture-retention and skin barrier functions applicable in a wide range of skincare products.

DIC, the first company in the world to successfully produce food-grade Spirulina on a commercial scale, began cultivating Spirulina algae in the 1970s. Since then, the DIC Group has leveraged its capabilities as a pioneer in the field of microalgae.

Committed to producing high-quality Spirulina, DIC is a leading international manufacturer of Spirulina powder and the Spirulina-derived natural blue food colorant Linablue®, well-suited for uses in healthy foods, food materials, and even livestock feed.

The alliance with GSM will enable DIC to share mass cultivation and functional ingredients extraction technologies accumulated in the production of Spirulina. Together, DIC and GSM hope to establish new technologies for Suizenji Nori cultivation.

In addition, GSM will work with DIC Group companies, including Sun Chemical Corporation, which oversees Group operations in the Americas and Europe, expanding sales of Suizenji Nori and SACRAN™ worldwide, while promoting the development of new applications for both.

Looking ahead, DIC Group will continue strengthening microalgae, including blue-green algae, cultivation, providing products that can deliver true value to customers in healthcare and personal care in more sustainable ways.

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DIC Corporation is one of the world’s leading fine chemicals companies and the core of the DIC Group, a multinational organization comprising over 190 companies around the globe, including Sun Chemical Corporation, in more than 60 countries and territories. The DIC Group is recognized as a global leader in the markets for a variety of products essential to modern lifestyles, including packaging materials, display materials such as those used in television and computer displays, and high-performance materials for smartphones and other digital devices, as well as for automobiles. Through such products, the Group endeavors to deliver safety and peace of mind, and color and comfort, to people everywhere. The DIC Group also seeks to contribute to a sustainable society by developing innovative products that respond to social change and which help address social imperatives. With annual consolidated net sales exceeding ¥800 billion and 22,000-plus employees worldwide, we pledge to continue working in close cooperation with our customers wherever they are. Please visit our website for more details:

GSM endeavors to achieve the sustainable future of Suizenji Nori blue-green algae—cyanobacteria indigenous only to Japan. By enhancing the mass-cultivation of this precious cyanobacteria, GSM seeks to promote Suizenji Nori for use in a broad range of applications beyond edible seaweed. As many university studies continue exploring novel applications of Suizenji Nori, GSM has already successfully established a method to produce a stable supply of high-quality SACRAN™—a polysaccharide extracted from Suizenji Nori—with commercial applications. To balance demand and supply, GSM has established a cultivation site for the mass cultivation of Suizenji Nori, reducing costs, and protecting this indigenous Japanese cyanobacterium from extinction. SACRAN™ is a safe biomaterial that can be safely used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, biomedical due to its unique properties. GSM is dedicated to the sustainable supply of SACRAN™.