Designer dairy: Formulating with upcycled bovine colostrum, human milk mimicry and cell-based yogurt
06 Jul 2022 --- Ripples of innovation across the lactosphere are being generated by new food technology advancements, which include a new superfood sourced from discarded bovine colostrum from the milk industry.
In Israel, researchers have managed to synthesize cultivated dairy cow milk fat in the lead up to the world’s first cell-based yogurt. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have moved to greenlight a unique nutritional compound in human milk, opening up pathways to formulate baby formula.
FoodIngredientsFirst delves into the workings of the Dairy 2.0 revolution, speaking with the creators behind these futuristic iterations of conventional milk-based ingredients.
Superfood from discarded bovine colostrum
Maolac is creating a new superfood touted as delivering benefits similar to those found in breast milk, by extracting identical proteins from bovine colostrum identified through its machine learning platform.
Bovine colostrum is a nutrient-rich milky fluid that comes from the udder of cows in the first few days after giving birth, and is 95% equivalent to those found in human breast milk. It is currently dumped in drains at dairies the world over to the tune of more than five billion liters a year.
The company is now leveraging its proteomics discovery platform to create its first anti-inflammatory product line of ingredients for gut health. This will be marketed toward athletes seeking to reduce muscle strain and improve recovery time, maintain balanced digestive systems and improve the mobility of the elderly.
Maolac has identified more than 1,500 known bioactive proteins in human breast milk. It discovered that bovine colostrum has over 400 homolog proteins with more than a 95% bio-similarity to human breast milk, which can be extracted.
“Maolac’s bioactive ingredients can be incorporated into foods, beverages, supplements and much more. Baby food products are definitely in our go to market strategy,” Maya Ashkenazi-Otmazgin, Maolac CEO and co-founder, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
The Israeli food-tech specialist recently raised US$3.2 million in a recent seed funding round, which will grow its portfolio of “thousands of high-impact human functional milk protein mixtures”, tailor-made for various immune-boosting applications.
Maolac will use the seed funding to build a state-of-the-art facility that will feature small-scale production capabilities. The facility will also be able to create analytics and samples for customers and clinical trials.
“[Our facility] will help introduce our human functional milk proteins into new segments and enable the product to target a variety of food products for daily consumption,” says Ashkenazi-Otmazgin.
Unlike other functional ingredients, Maolac’s active ingredients work like breast milk to directly target specific body functions. The ingredients travel through the bloodstream or the gut, resulting in higher overall efficacy at lower dosages, making its products cost effective to produce, as the company details.
“The idea of transforming the first, nutrient-rich milk of cows that have just given birth into a source for human protein is a stroke of pure genius. Billions of liters of bovine colostrum are discarded each year,” remarks OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved.
“Maolac takes this waste and creates a product of huge potential benefit to millions at a time when the world is desperately searching for new sustainable sources of protein.”
The start-up is in advanced discussions on joint development agreements with several leading Israeli companies in the food and supplements markets. Its stakeholders are also in talks with several leading dairy protein producers and global dairy, ingredient and supplement companies.
A different kind of cultured yogurt
Wilk, a developer of “authentic” cell-cultured human and animal milk, is spearheading a project to develop the first yogurt using cell-cultured milk fat. In its first stage, the product will be used as a concept product.
The yogurt will be the first food product to incorporate a cell-cultured milk ingredient and serve as proof of the viability of Wilk’s cell-based technology for minimizing the need to use animals in future dairy production.
The product will contain the core component of fat cultured from cells, ensuring that it retains the inherent nutritional benefits only found in real milk fats, including the full complement of essential macro and micronutrients.
“It has long been established that milk fat is integral to supporting human health and nutrition, aiding the absorption of key nutrients, such as vitamins D and E and calcium, into the blood while providing a rich source of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties,” says Tomer Aizen, CEO of Wilk.
“These core properties cannot be replicated through alternative technologies, making Wilk the first company in the world to develop a dairy product containing genuine, cell-cultured milk fat. We will continue investing our efforts and resources to develop cell-cultured milk and breast milk components that will help our partners produce healthier products in a more sustainable manner.”
The project is expected to last approximately six months, culminating in the incorporation of cell-cultured animal milk fat into the product. Concurrently, Wilk is working to increase the production capacity of cell-cultured fat in its facilities and establish optimal fat separation methods for use in foods.
In tandem with its advances in developing cell-cultured animal milk fats for dairy products, Wilk is working to accelerate the production of cultured human milk components that will be integrated into infant formula to develop products that are optimized for infants’ growth and development.
The company’s vice president of R&D recently spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst about a breastfeeding formula in the works, hailed as a “more genuine replication”.
Human milk mimicry gains ground
In China, Kyowa Hakko Bio’s manufacturing strain used for producing 2'-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) – considered the most abundant human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) in human milk – recently passed the safety evaluation by the nation’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA).
The health benefits of 2’-FL include promoting brain development, strengthening of the immune system and regulation of infant gut microbiomes. 2’-FL has also been found to decrease the incidences of gastroenteritis and otitis media in infants.
Other manufacturing strains used for producing 3’-sialyllactose (3’-SL) and 6’-sialyllactose (6’-SL) are currently under review, the company states.
In China, the safety approval of the manufacturing strains is the first step in the process of registering new raw materials produced with the help of bioengineering technology.
Kyowa Hakko Bio is now moving forward to the next step of the approval process which is the 2’-FL authorization of use as food additive in infant formulas.
Similar registration procedures of Kyowa Hakko Bio’s 3’-SL and 6’-SL will begin once their manufacturing strains have passed the safety evaluation by MARA.
In addition to the above, the Japanese biotech firm has already submitted GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) notices to the US Food and Drug Administration and Novel Food registration applications to the European Commission.
Kyowa Hakko Bio has also started filing for approval of its new ingredients in various Asian countries.
The production of the company’s three HMOs is scheduled to begin in September 2022 at Kyowa Hakko Bio’s manufacturing facility in Thailand and will be launched successively from the end of 2022 for countries and regions where applications for the new ingredients have been approved.
Over the past year, HMOs have been gaining more recognition as the key to unlocking baby formula that is more identical to human breast milk. Earlier this year, in the South Pacific, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approved Danish supplier Chr. Hansen’s 2’-FL HMO for infant formula.
New entrants flood a diversifying space
Among other notable highlights in the dairy-tech sphere, 108Labs unveiled its M2 bioreactor production platform for breast and bovine milk last March. The company affirms that an IP incubation model might be the only viable one for the sector as up to 170,000 factories would be needed to replace cows.
Another dairy player, US-based biomilq, was awarded US$21 million in Series A funding last October to bring cell-cultured human milk to the market. Its mammary cell-cultured human breast milk can produce more than 2,500 components found in human breast milk.
And in other moves, Singapore-based TurtleTree received US$30 million toward its cell-based lactoferrin and human milk, one of the largest investment rounds to date in Asia’s burgeoning cell-based food sector.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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