Rare sugars expert announces sweetener breakthrough

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/SarapulSar38
Image: Getty/SarapulSar38

Related tags Sugar Sweeteners Artificial sweeteners Sugar substitute Sucralose Stevia tagatose

European industrial biotechnology specialist BRAIN Biotech has teamed up with Bonumose to bring the rare sugars expert’s sweetener tagatose to market globally.

Announcing they have reached initial project milestones as part of their strategic collaboration, the companies aim to improve the performance of several enzymes that catalyze cascade reactions in the continuous production of low-calorie, ultra low-glycemic, naturally occurring sweeteners.

Tagatose has attracted attention as a sweetener. But despite its health advantages over sugar, tagatose’s cost-effective production remains a roadblock.

Bonumose has developed a process using cornstarch instead of lactose from milk that could potentially lower production costs significantly by 80 percent (to around $3/kg).

The company uses its proprietary enzymatic technology platform to convert abundant plant-based feedstocks to rare sugars via three patented breakthoughs: irreversible enzymatic reactions; low cost and globally-abundant starch feedstocks; and continuous production processes with standard HFCS/sugar equipment. 

It said the tie-up with Germany’s BRAIN Biotech will make its operation more cost efficient.

The company uses multiple enzymes within the synthesis cascades and BRAIN Biotech is optimizing several of these enzymes using enzyme engineering.

Bonumose has developed a patented process for producing both tagatose and allulose (not yet approved for use in the EU) which eliminates several processing steps and significantly increases yields during the production process.

Patrick Lorenz, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives BioScience at BRAIN Biotech said: “BRAIN Biotech´s enzyme technology suite has proven once again to deliver on a customer´s challenging protein engineering targets. Based on rational structure- and sequence-guided design we improved individual enzymes and their cumulative performance in cascades to better match production process requirements. The ultimate aim is making production of Bonumose´s beneficial rare sugars even more cost efficient.”

According to Bonumose, Tagatose is suitable for all beverages, including but not limited to: soft drinks, fruit juices, tea, coffee, dairy-based drinks, and non-dairy alternatives to dairy. It also blends well with stevia and other high-intensity sweeteners to balance out the sweetness onset and lingering, overcome bitterness, and add mouthfeel.

Ed Rogers, Co-founder and CEO at Bonumose, said: “Tagatose and allulose have 92% and 70% the sweetness of sucrose but only 38 % and 10 % of the calories. Our mission is to produce them in a low cost production process from commodity carbohydrates. Our development collaborator BRAIN Biotech has passed the third milestone in the collaboration and thanks to their enzyme engineering, analytics and enzyme assay expertise we are on track and confident to meet our developmental objectives.”

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