Marking a significant leap in the animal-free meat industry, bioproduction platform company Enzymit and food-tech company Aleph Farms have collaborated to successfully develop insulin substituents that have the potential to revolutionize the production of cultivated meat at scale, by significantly reducing costs and development time.
Scaling up cultivated meat production has until now been hindered by the high expenses associated with developing non-animal-derived serum protein mimetics. These proteins play a crucial role in promoting and supporting cell growth but are currently not readily available in the market at the necessary quantity, quality, and cost for large-scale production.
Recognizing this challenge, Aleph Farms turned to Enzymit to co-develop innovative insulin substituents in microorganisms that can effectively mimic the functions of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, but with enhanced activity per molecule.
Neta Lavon, PhD, CTO of Aleph Farms, emphasized the significance of this development, stating, "Developing more suitable processing aids for the production of cultivated meat is imperative for driving economies of scale and taking cultivated meat mainstream. This innovation, combining Enzymit's outstanding protein design and experimental capabilities with our team's expertise in cellular agriculture, is helping to build the foundations for our sector to achieve cost-efficiency and long-term impact."
The successful collaboration holds immense potential
The successful collaboration between Enzymit and Aleph Farms not only holds immense potential for the cultivation of cow cells but also extends to other cultivated meat types, such as porcine, ovine and poultry. Insulin, being a highly conserved protein across mammals and other species, could similarly revolutionize the production of these meat alternatives.
Enzymit's achievement is attributed to its proprietary computational design algorithms and high-throughput testing capabilities. Leveraging these resources, Enzymit swiftly developed a range of insulin substituents and assessed their functionality through rigorous experimentation. The selected proteins, all soluble and expressed in E. coli, required no complex purification steps or additional treatments.
After thorough screening, several leading candidates were identified, demonstrating superior activity in cell culturing and requiring minimal concentration for activation. These proteins, which demand fewer downstream purification and maturation processes, have the potential to dramatically reduce production time and costs.
Gideon Lapidoth, PhD, CEO of Enzymit, expressed his gratitude for the partnership with Aleph Farms. "Aleph Farms has been an invaluable partner for this initiative, which can pave the way for more cost-efficient production of cultivated meat,” he said. “With recombinant proteins currently accounting for the overwhelming majority of cell culture costs, creating highly stable and more active insulin substituents can markedly reduce the cost of growth media and increase efficiency in producing cultivated meat at scale."