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Making the most of protein: DSM says enzyme toolbox will 'do more' with protein

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By Nathan Gray+

Last updated the 15-May-2014 at 14:21 GMT

The new protease toolbox is based on new research that expands the use traditionally 'niche' enzyme applications, says DSM.
The new protease toolbox is based on new research that expands the use traditionally 'niche' enzyme applications, says DSM.

Ingredients giant DSM has unveiled a new toolbox for its protease enzymes that aims expand the use of the enzymes from niche market applications, and help manufacturers 'do more with protein.'

The toolbox comprises of eight proteases, made up of DSM's traditional protease offering, in addition to newer enzymes such as its Maxipro HSP - which recently won receive an Innovation of the Year award from Frost & Sullivan. However, the toolbox offers more than just the pulling together of the firm's enzyme capabilities, explained Cindy Gerhardt, Innovation Manager Enzymes at DSM Food Specialties.  

Speaking exclusively to FoodNavigator she explained that until now, protease enzymes have generally been 'rather specific' - with each enzyme seen to have a niche application, such as breaking up particular dairy proteins in to smaller 'chunks' for better bioavailability in sports nutrition.

"What we see now, with the amount of interest in protein, is that the number of issues related to protein is increasing too - whether that is extraction of the protein, or do to with functionality, or flavour, or digestibility," said Gerhardt - who also noted that there has been a huge increase in the number of protein sources available to the food industry.

"Our research has focused mostly on finding new applications because there is a lot of interest that we have experienced on the market in broadening up the use of proteases."

The enzymes innovation manager noted that in the past proteases have been very closely connected to certain applications, even though the enzyme may have had other potential uses, and that this way of working has made it difficult for customers to find information on the right protein.

By expanding its knowledge on how and where its protease enzymes can be used, the DSM team have been able to produce a new toolbox for manufacturers.

"The offering is a set of eight different proteases. Really, what new is that we are launching this as a toolbox, so we are making very easy for customers to choose and pick their protease of interest," she said. "Now we are making everything very transparent - what they do, where they are active, and how they can be used in different applications."

"It's a very friendly way to pick and choose the most friendly or usable protease for you."

Increased applications

Gerhardt told us that the research done by DSM in producing the new toolbox has helped to build better knowledge on other uses for its new and existing enzymes. She used the example of its Maxipro PSP, which has been traditionally used for flavour improvement of protein hydrolysates in sports nutrition:

"We have done a whole lot of research more recently and have found out that this particular protease - because it is very specific in its action, can be used to produce gluten free foods."

"That has been a real change in the type of application, and also in the value of the enzyme - because these applications were perhaps not possible before."

By looking at the molecular functionality of each of its enzymes in the toolbox, Gerhardt said that it had been possible to better understand the mechanisms of the enzymes, and use that to apply the protease's to new situations - be it with a new type of protein or a new issue regarding protein.

"Maybe in the past is was mainly dairy and soy and mean, but now we are opening up to all kinds of new plant proteins and we are becoming much more focused on the use of by-product streams - and we need new enzymes for that, or at least more insight in how they work and at what conditions they can work best," explained the DSM Food Specialties expert.

Waste potential

Gerhardt noted that there is ever increasing interest in utilising new sources of protein - and that one of the key areas for this is in the recovery and extraction of usable proteins from waste streams, and in altering the functionalities of proteins from newer sources to be able to use them in foods better.

"With the food applications, you may be looking at foaming, or water binding, or for another particular effect in food technology - and sometimes you will need to modify the protein a little to get that."

This is especially true in instances where protein may have been recovered from waste streams and has perhaps been 'treated quite harshly' during previous processing, said Gerhardt.

"We are very interested in this whole field because we see that the world needs a lot of protein," she added. "We will run in to a general protein shortage if we continue in the way that we are now, so we believe that this is a huge area for human nutrition that we should tap in to."

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