Assay for Collagen Damage in the Food Industry

ESR9 Claire Koenig

I am a PhD student settled in Copenhagen and working on the development of a new mass spectrometric method for an accurate, convenient, and effective characterization of collagen damage in industrial production. To carry out the research, I will be collaborating with Devro.

Having always been curious about the world that surrounds me and about the way things work, I am deeply interested in scientific subjects. That concern drove me to study chemical engineering at the ECPM in Strasbourg where I specialized in analytical chemistry. I discovered chromatographic systems and mass spectrometry and grew an interest in their various uses and in instrumentation in general. I worked on such systems for four months, developing and validating an analytical method for simultaneous drug quantification in Dried Blood Spots. Willing to dig deeper into mass spectrometric applications, I became greatly interested in proteomics. It led me to complete an internship in Copenhagen working on palaeoproteomics. There, I have discovered a stimulating and dynamic field of research that puts science and innovation at the service of archaeological work. It is now in this field of research that I would like to continue working on, having the chance to combine my scientific interests for instrumentation and for proteomics.

My PhD Project

Although thematically distant from the other applications, this one uses the same state-of-the-art technological solutions developed to address the analytical challenges associated with ancient protein analysis to deliver an accurate, convenient and effective assay of protein damage characterisation in industrial production. DEVRO is a world-leader in artificial sausage casing production. Artificial sausage casing is made of collagen usually derived from cattle and pig skin. During the sausage casing production process, collagen is subject to a series of harsh acidic and alkaline steps inducing permanent and irreversible biochemical damage in the collagen. DEVRO is interested in accurately characterising the amount and the type of damage in the collagen it processes, because this affects the final mechanical properties of its end product. Currently, DEVRO measures its collagen damage using a rudimentary ammonia assay, quantifying the amount of ammonia released as the product of deamidation of asparagine and glutamine in controlled acidic conditions. This assay has no resolution concerning the extent of each deamidation site and it is completely blind to other types of biochemical damage the production treatments can induce in collagen. PROJECT 9, will adapt the EvoSEP and Thermo Orbitrap technology for fast DIA tandem MS screening, 200 samples/day, of the damage products in the collagen DEVRO processes. A method for blind search of ancient protein damage was recently described by EC and JVO. The information generated during this phase will be integrated with the EvoSEP DIA tandem MS screening technology to deliver an accurate quality control assay DEVRO will routinely use to control the quality of its production.

Planned secondments

Secondment period of 3 months, during PhD year 1 and 2, at DEVRO PLC under Gordon Paul’s supervision to understand DEVRO’s industrial needs and to engineer the possible implementation of the methodology developed at University of Copenhagen in the DEVRO production plant.


2016 – 2019

Specialization in analytical chemistry

Engineering school - Ecole Européenne de Chimie, Polymères et Matériaux (ECPM), Strasbourg, France


Ancient protein analysis on archaeological samples

5 months internship – Evolutionary Genomic Section, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


Development and validation of an analytical method for the simultaneous quantification of 60 drugs in Dried Blood Spots using UPLC with tandem mass spectrometry.

4 months internship – Labor Krone, Bad Salzuflen, Germany


Quality control of crop protection products: Chemical and physical testing.

2 months internship – Dupont de Nemours, Cernay, France


Takumi Tsutaya, Claire Koenig, Enrico Cappellini, Scientific Reports(2019). Palaeoproteomic identification of breast milk protein residues from the archaeological skeletal remains of a neonatal dog.

Host Institution

Denmark 🇩🇰


Industrial Co-Supervisor

Gordon Paul 🇬🇧

Academic Co-Supervisor