A biotech answer to the world’s epic sugar consumption could be in the works — if Amai Proteins gets its way. The synthetic biology company is gearing up to commercialize a microbially produced protein that on average is 3,000 times sweeter than sugar and, if widely adopted, could put a dent in the global metabolic disease and obesity epidemic. Amai is aiming for this protein to replace up to 70% of the added sugar without the health hazards and off-flavors of other synthetic and natural sweeteners.
The origins of Amai’s product can be traced to the equatorial belt, where a natural protein called monellin was discovered in tropical berries. Although it is a protein, monellin also docks to the same sweet receptors as sugar, so has the same mouthfeel and taste profile. But there is a glitch. “This is a hyper-sweet protein, but it denatures at 45 degrees; just like boiling an egg, it loses functionality,” says Ilan Samish, Amai’s Founder and CEO.
Amai has so far raised $30 million and expects to close a series A investment soon. The company has ongoing collaborations with food manufacturers. The goal is to launch commercially in 2023
I avoid them too, but there are things like the aronia berry that are very good for you, but it tastes very bad. It would be nice to make it a little more palatable.
A few years ago when we were getting started on the aronia I bought some miracle berry plants and miracle berry pills (about a buck apiece). You chew the pill and it changes your taste buds so that bitter is sweet. I think hot peppers were sweet too. This looked like a great solution and worked like crazy making the aronia taste great with no added calories. FDA killed it, probably bribed by big sugar. They must be losing their touch if they let this one through.
They figured out how to make miraculin in transgenetic tomatoes, lettuce and e coli I think. Legal stuff killed it all.