Chitin in Nature

Chitin is one of the most abundant polysaccharides in nature, found in exoskeleton of crustaceans, insects and in some vertebrates. Chitin has structural, nutritional and physiological function, including in immune response.

In nature, chitin structure and function is maintained by an ancient group of proteins that:

Synthesize chitin

Degrade chitin (chitinases)

Bind chitin in the absence of degradation (chitinase-like proteins) to mediate intracellular processes

Genis has developed proprietary chitin derivatives that mimic natural binding partners of the mammalian chitinases and chitinase-like proteins (CLPs), and through them, seek to ameliorate inflammation by deploying innate mechanisms.

Mammalian Chitin Binding Proteins

The C/CLP System in Human Disease

A system of chitinases and chitinase-like proteins (the C/CLP system) plays an important role in humans, being involved in the regulation of:




In healthy adults, activity of the C/CLP system is stable and highly regulated. However, in a state of inflammation and pathological immunity, expression of these proteins increases significantly.

Prolonged and excessive activation of the C/CLP system can aid in the creation of a destructive environment that can ultimately lead to disease.


Chitinases in Innate Immunity

In healthy individuals the innate immune system recognizes environmental chitin as foreign and deploys chitinases to break it down into small pieces, or chains, that can be excreted.

Short chain chitin thus has an anti-inflammatory function, signaling to the innate immune system that the chitin has been successfully dealt with and an inflammatory state is no longer needed.

Chitooligosaccharides (ChOS) can have a biosimilar effect as the digested chitin, bypassing the chitinase cascade resulting in reduced inflammation.

chitin-like proteins

CLPs in Disease

The most widely studied CLP, YKL-40, is overexpressed in a variety of pathological conditions, including asthma, COPD, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

YKL-40 can stimulate cell growth and proliferation, be anti-apoptotic, induce angiogenesis and tissue remodeling, in addition to having a role in immune cell activation.

Research by Genis scientists has demonstrated that ChOS molecules of specific lengths can bind YKL-40, modifying its confirmation, resulting in the modulation of its downstream functions.