Designing New Biopolymers


Designing New Biopolymers

From new biopolymers to new applications

HTL develops new biopolymers using bacterial fermentation and chemical modification processes, from laboratory scale to GMP pilot plant and GMP commercial production.

HTL also helps create opportunities for tomorrow’s medical applications. Click here to learn more.

Exploring glycosaminoglycans

Hyaluronic Acid, as well as the Heparosan and Chondroitin also produced by HTL, belong to the family of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs are long, unbranched, highly hydrophilic polysaccharides that can be found in great amounts in the human body, where they are synthesized. GAGs are composed of repeating disaccharide units that are naturally present in every mammalian tissue.

A history of customized solutions

In the global pharmaceutical and medical device industry, HTL has a history of being a long-term innovation partner, making a difference today, and helping to shape tomorrow. HTL is convinced that co-creation of customized solutions is the safest way to value creation for its clients and for patients. Our clients can rely on our expertise to support the lifecycle management of their portfolio and transform their ambitions into unique, life-changing solutions.


HTL is developing Heparosan, a promising raw material for the design of innovative medical devices. Under license, HTL will be the sole producer of higher molecular weight Heparosan by fermentation. Click here to contact us for more information.

What is Heparosan?

Heparosan (chemical name sodium heparosan), the natural bioprecursor of heparin in mammals, is an endogenous Glycosaminoglycan with a structure very close to that of Hyaluronan. However, it cannot be hydrolyzed by hyaluronidase enzymes.

Characteristics and functionalities of Heparosan:

  • chemical properties allowing the easy production of gels
  • potentially increased lifetime and water retention capability compared to existing biomaterials
  • safe for use in humans
  • specific rheological and physico-chemical properties that can be leveraged for new finished product functionalities

HTL can produce Heparosan with a Molecular Weight from 20 kDa to 2MDa, using its pilot scale fermentation process.

HTL is your partner for the development of tailor-made functionalized derivatives of Heparosan such as Heparosan sulfate.


Heparosan has potential applications in ophthalmology, orthopedics, aesthetics and dermatology, and for the coating of medical devices. Heparosan and Heparosan derivatives are also good candidates for high-quality biomaterials, gels and scaffolds for tissue engineering, as well as for serving as a drug delivery vehicle.

Chondroitin by fermentation

While most Chondroitin sulfate on the market is of animal origin (bovine, pig, shark, fish, bird), HTL is developing a new source of Chondroitin of non-animal origin with the use of fermentation. Chondroitin sulfate can then be obtained by sulfation. Click here to contact us for more information.

What is Chondroitin?

Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan, an important structural component of cartilage. It is also an essential component of certain proteoglycans, and plays a vital role in cell signaling.

Characteristics and benefits of Chondroitin by fermentation:

  • absence of animal traces and prion contamination
  • helps protect endangered animal species
  • access to a Chondroitin with higher molecular weight, which opens up the potential for new applications:

HTL can produce Chondroitin with a Molecular Weight around 50 kDa (Chondroitin Sulfate) or 400 kDa (non-sulfated Chondroitin). HTL is your partner for the development of tailor-made functionalized Chondroitin derivatives such as Chondroitin sulfate.


Today, Chondroitin sulfate is used in the symptomatic treatment of osteoarthritis, as well as in ophthalmology. It also has potential applications in tissue engineering and oncology, and its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties are being investigated.

Functionalized Glycosaminoglycan derivatives

HTL offers the tailor-made development of functionalized derivatives of Glycosaminoglycans, such as modified Hyaluronic Acid, Heparosan and Chondroitin. Developing new functionalities by chemical modification allows the optimization of existing uses of these biopolymers, but also opens opportunities for new medical applications. During the design of novel synthetic derivatives, attention is paid to avoiding the loss of native biopolymer properties such as biocompatibility, biodegradability and mucoadhesivity.

Click here to contact us for more information.

Typical chemical modifications:

  • Hydrazidation
  • Epoxy grafting
  • Sulfation
  • Silylation
  • Deacetylation
  • Alkylation

New functionalities thanks to chemical modification:

  • Optimizing physico-chemical properties
    • Viscodynamic properties
    • Solubility in biological media
  • Delaying degradation
    • Extended half-life
    • Improved resistance to oxidative stress and catabolic enzymes
  • Modulating biological properties
    • Tissue adhesion
    • Tissue integration
    • Tissue improvement
    • Targeted delivery