Scientists at California-based food-tech company Yali Bio have produced a critical component of human breast milk from yeast.
To create the fat, Yali Bio researchers used precision fermentation to coax the yeast into producing the human bioidentical fat. Specifically, they produced a fat called OPO (chemically described as 1,3-dioleoyl-2-palmitoyl-glycerol or 1,3-dioleolyl-2-palmitate), which is naturally found in high concentrations in breast milk. OPO helps infants to absorb nutrients and is critical to infant health.
Currently, OPO is one of the key nutritional differences between breast milk and infant formula, as there is no economical source of pure OPO available to the producers of formula. Instead, formulas today rely on fats from vegetable oils or cow’s milk, neither of which contain optimal levels of OPO.
Yulin Lu, CEO of Yali Bio and who previously held positions at Impossible Foods and Eat Just, said: “We are at a pivotal point in the growth of our company, which is transitioning from a platform innovator with strong scientific proofs of concept, into a business that can serve multiple markets in food and nutrition”.
In January, Yali Bio hired Lorin DeBonte to be its new senior vice president of innovation. DeBonte was previously R&D leader at Cargill.
Lu continued: “With his highly accomplished career commercialising edible fats and lipids at Cargill, DeBonte will lead our innovation team and continue to develop our core competencies in ingredient innovation and applications, as well as our pipeline of partnerships”.
DeBonte commented: “I am excited to join Yali Bio and to leverage our precision fermentation platform to create the next generation of fat and lipid ingredients. Our platform will help the food and nutrition industry meet consumer expectations in sustainable sourcing, plant-derived foods and wellness. I look forward to working with our customers to develop their next formulations with our tailored fat product lines."