June 16, 2024


Outstanding health & fitness

Israel’s Amai Proteins Replaces Sugar With Healthy, Sweet Proteins

Sweetness – the assumed of it fills our minds with indulgence and temptation, and for a lot of, dread over the effects and adverse health affect. Medical analysis has proven a robust website link involving excess sugar intake and weight problems, as properly as a slew of disorders. Synthetic sweeteners never seem to be substantially better and their use has been joined with adverse outcomes this kind of as fat gain, metabolic issues, variety 2 diabetic issues, and alteration of gut microbiota.

Medical professionals, nutritionists, scientists, and health professionals the environment in excess of – as properly as the UN, and the World Health Firm – have all ongoing to issue warnings about the adverse health effects of sugar, and its social and environmental implications.

SEE ALSO: How Israeli Ingenuity Is Retaining Your Sweet Tooth Healthy

Dr. Ilan Samish, a protein scientist, biochemistry lecturer, and entrepreneur, has not only warned that “sugar is public enemy selection one” and a form of “slow suicide,” he’s also sought to redefine the sweet sensation that satisfies our palate. Dr. Samish founded Amai Proteins (Amai signifies sweet in Japanese), a food stuff tech startup that formulated a much healthier substitute ideal for mass generation dependent on the strategy of freshly built proteins that are each sweet and sustainable. The firm, which programs to go to market in 2022, works by using Agile Integrative Computational Protein Design and style (AI-CPD) to design and style proteins that are virtually equivalent to all those discovered in nature.

Sweet proteins are made by tropical crops in Malaysia, China, West Africa, and other places, but only in the previous 50 many years has there been scientific exploration to fully grasp their attributes. 

“The problem,” Samish suggests, “is not to locate these proteins, but to make them sturdy enough to be helpful outside of their comfort zones.” Sweet proteins are a treasure of nature. They are significantly sweeter than sugar and are even healthy. However, until eventually now they have been pretty much useless in foodstuff output mainly because of their sparsity and inability to manage their structure beneath the ailments demanded to be utilized for food. 


Dr. Samish recently welcomed NoCamels for a tour of Amai Proteins’ Rehovot places of work and uncovered a extensive, multidisciplinary scientific and private journey that is achieving its fruits – a venture-backed effort to redefine sweetness in the worldwide mass foods market place jointly with experienced veterans from Israel’s ideal food corporations, like SodaStream, Tnuva, and Materna and a crew of gifted experts.

Engineering a steady, healthy protein that can be applied for food items is extended and complex. Appropriately, Samish assembled a team of five PhDs that he ideas to grow to 8 in the short time period as Amai matures.

He first recognized himself in the Israeli scientific neighborhood, completing his master’s and PhD at the Weizmann Institute beneath the supervision of Dr. Avigdor Scherz who produced a drug to handle prostate cancer. He tells NoCamels not only of the instruction and direction he received, but also about, “learning the approach of using an strategy from the brain of a mad scientist into the real earth.” Upon completion, he pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the College of Pennsylvania composing the code to redesign protein membranes for Invoice DeGrado, a pioneer in the discipline of protein style and design.

After a few a long time as a professor, Samish resolved to halt his academic occupation to significantly deal with the problematic partnership that society has with sugar. He used to The Kitchen FoodTech Hub, an Israeli incubator for meals startups without having a proof of principle, getting acceptance on the deserves of his CV.

The acceptance awarded Amai, then in its initially days, two yrs and NIS 3 million to develop a fundable milestone, a big obstacle thinking of the complex, multidisciplinary nature of the endeavor. Just making a first sample product required groups expert in protein layout, biotechnology, precision fermentation and purification, analytics, and food stuff technological innovation. After the two many years ended up up, Amai – thanks to imaginative outsourcing and willpower – attained the recommendations of PepsiCo, Ocean Spray, Danone, and others who vouched for it as the actual offer.

To structure the great proteins, all those that present unbelievable degrees of sweetness devoid of the negative outcomes of sugar, Samish 1st commenced by observing how proteins mature in harsh and extraordinary circumstances in mother nature like the depths of the ocean, acidic swamps, hot geysers, or Antarctica. The thought was to mimic their helpful qualities in the styles of new, sweet proteins.

Illustration by Amai Proteins.
Illustration by Amai Proteins.

Once fashioned, the proteins go through a testing procedure which Samish refers to as “protein torture,” to recognize the limitations of each and every protein in demanding conditions like heat as nicely as superior acid or fat amounts. Then, a DNA sequence that will code for the wanted amino acids is engineered and organized for manufacturing. It is printed and put into yeast or one more microorganism for precision fermentation led by Head of Protein Purification, Dr. Hagay Shmuely, who gained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular and Structural Biology from Ben Gurion University. This “brewing” process should be carried out in suitable conditions with a specific temperature and degree of oxygen to make the yeast as happy as attainable so that it reproduces optimally. Once this is complete, the mix undergoes downstream processing to transform it into a distinct liquid or a dry powder that can be blended into food items.

Amazingly, a person teaspoon of Amai’s protein replaces 100 lbs . of sugar—and 1 kilogram of the protein is as sweet as between 3 and 10 tons of sugar. Now, Amai’s proteins are manufactured in an R&D capability Shmuely seeks to excellent a product that will allow the business to get to generation scale in an economically effective way.

“One ton of sugar expenses all over $400. We want to reduce our cost as significantly as doable due to the fact sugar is low-cost,” points out Hagay. He has calculated that making use of a 200,000-liter fermenter in the long term, Amai will be in a position to access a price that is significantly cheaper than sugar, letting the enterprise to attain its aim of significantly lessening sugar consumption worldwide.

Yogurt sweetened with Amai Proteins next to a 3D model of the company's protein sweetener. Courtesy
Yogurt sweetened with Amai Proteins subsequent to a 3D product of the company’s protein sweetener. Courtesy

World food stuff providers see amazing price in these types of a sugar-minimizing protein. OceanSpray, which attained $2 billion in profits in 2020, a short while ago inked a offer with Amai to deliver sugar-diminished cranberry juice. When tasting the juice, the style is seemingly similar, but which is specifically the issue.

“Amai allows food items producers to integrate a healthy, inexpensive substitute to sugar without the need of compromising on style even a bit,” Dr. Samish tells NoCamels.

Dr. Samish does not feel that the answers to sugar lies in the “diet” alternatives, and he does not seek out to contend with them. 

“My knowledge with the substantial meals firms teaches me that taste is king,” suggests Dr. Samish, explaining why Amai’s method is to minimize and enhance sugar rather of aiming to change it. “The diet plan market place is a compact a person that is giving inferior taste, and people clearly like the sensory profile and taste of complete sugar goods. We are providing a inexpensive, healthy, tasty way to slice sugar significantly devoid of compromising the taste one particular little bit.” 

Sweet drinks. Photo by Claudia Soares on Unsplash
Sweet drinks. Picture by Claudia Soares on Unsplash

Simply because of its potency, Amai’s proteins are only essential in incredibly smaller portions and can change involving 30 and 80 per cent of sugar in meals products without having shifting the style, based on the product. Customers get pleasure from both the flavor and feeling of sugar in their foods, some thing that would be missing if the sugar have been completely taken off. That is a job that lies on the shoulders of Inbar Zuker, the Head of Sensory Evaluation at Amai Proteins. Zuker is a foodstuff technologist who made use of to operate for Tzabar Salads, Rimon Beverages, and Israel’s two sensory investigation companies – TNS and NewSense (a Nielsen Group subsidiary)and now oversees the operation of mixing the sweetener into distinct meals.

She recruited 20 “super tasters”, these who possess remarkable sensory awareness and make up around 5 percent of the general populace, for a sensory skilled panel. They satisfy 2 times a week, or acquire food items deals all through lockdown, to examine the subtleties of changes in flavor, sweetness, texture, and almost everything in in between that can improve as components are included or taken out, or right after a food is stored for a extensive period of time of time.

A pre-COVID sensory panel meeting at Amai Proteins. Courtesy
A pre-COVID sensory panel meeting at Amai Proteins. Courtesy

“With all of the highly developed technological know-how included in producing Amai’s goods, no machine can measure sweetness, only the human palate,” Zuker tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: DouxMatok Unveils 1st Solutions With Sugar-Reducing Tech – Chocolate Spreads

Amai is at this time in the procedure of going to a 1,100 sq. meter facility as it transitions from a proof-of-strategy R&D to production R&D. Transferring to greater, scalable pilot amenities with analytics and a greater foodstuff and beverage portfolio will allow for the organization to take a look at extra immediately and in a way that will be simply relevant to food items providers. Amai also indicated that it has designs to transfer into non-sweet proteins and alternative meat in an work to deal with the meals program as a total utilizing CPD and precision fermentation. 

This system is led by Yigal Gezundhait, Amai’s chief operations officer, who arrived to the enterprise following doing work at Teva Pharmaceuticals, Rafa Labs, and Vitamed, and Shmuel (Sam) Marko, Amai’s VP for Food Technology who joined immediately after attaining expertise with SodaStream, Tnuva, and Materna.

The transfer and development are staying highly developed alongside the developing of a world distribution approach with food items suppliers, beginning in the United States and Europe that is prepared to launch in 2022.