Thursday, July 25, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Picking a Healthier Alternative from the Haystack of Harmful Sugar Forms

GreenLab, an emerging next generation plant-biotechnology company producing complex proteins in corn, has officially announced a partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks to empower, at scale, the production of brazzein, a sweet-tasting protein found in the fruit of the native West African Oubli plant. Before we dig any further into this development, we must acknowledge that, while various sugar substitutes have shown to help in stifling conditions like obesity, some artificial sweeteners have also been linked to various health issues, including heart disease. Enter brazzein, which has a sweetness factor up to 2,000 times greater than sucrose, and therefore, it can be used as natural substitutes for sugar in products across the food and beverage industry. Making the whole value proposition even more important is, of course, GreenLab’s proprietary technology. You see, this technology is capable of growing enzymes and other proteins inside of corn kernels. Hence, by producing proteins in a cultivated crop, the stated technology allows for GreenLab to readily scale production across acres of cornfields without mandating massive up-front capital and infrastructure. Furthermore, once the protein of interest is duly extracted from the kernel, the remaining corn is then sent down the existing value chain to fulfill use cases like food, feed or fuel. Leveraging the technology in question, GreenLab has already developed two transformative enzymes in commercial production, including manganese peroxidase and laccase. On top of that, it has also successfully grown corn containing brazzein.

“GreenLab is eager to work with Ginkgo on this novel go-to-market strategy. By using Ginkgo Plant Trait Services, Protein Services and Deployment Capabilities we will be able to satisfy the demand for brazzein in the market with less risk using Ginkgo’s success based pricing model. Our existing partnership with Ginkgo has enabled this unique R&D approach for a product (brazzein) that the market desperately wants,” said Karen Wilson, CEO of GreenLab.

In the context of this partnership, though, GreenLab will bank upon Ginkgo’s capabilities to scale up its production of brazzein in three ways. One way would be using Ginkgo Plant Trait Services to improve GreenLab’s expression of brazzein in the corn kernel, and therefore, achieve economically-competitive levels. The second way is rooted in the prospect of using Ginkgo Protein Services to express brazzein in a microbial chassis via precision fermentation. The third and final way involves using Ginkgo Deployment Capabilities to develop downstream processes, processes that will eventually purify brazzein from both the corn kernel and fermentation broth.

With the given focal points of production, GreenLab aims to be the market-leading supplier of brazzein to food and beverage companies, while simultaneously reducing market and technical risk.

“Together, we aim to unlock the full potential of brazzein and help create healthier alternatives to traditional sweeteners. We look forward to getting to work and combining Ginkgo’s expertise in protein expression and optimization in plants and microbes alike with GreenLab’s innovative approach to plant biotechnology,” said Brennan Duty, Senior Director of Business Development and Product Lead of Plant Traits at Ginkgo Bioworks.