DSM buys US biotech firm with carotenoid ambitions

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

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DSM has acquired biotech firm Microbia in an undisclosed deal as the company expands its carotenoid operations.

DSM Nutritional Products (DNP) said the company was interested in Microbia’s proprietary platform that produced natural carotenoids like beta-carotene and canthaxanthin and had demonstrated broader capabilities.

But the company, nor Microbia, was available for further comment by the time of publication.

"The acquisition of Microbia represents a significant step for DSM in our strategy to accelerate our innovation activities in natural products and fermentation processes,” ​said DNP president and chief executive officer Leendert Staal.

“This acquisition allows us to expand our product portfolio as well as our research and development capabilities."

Microbia is a Massachusetts-based company and was formerly owned by Ironwood Pharmaceuticals. Kevin Madden, the company’s chief science officer said of the deal:

"We are thrilled to join DSM. Being part of a large global organization, and a world leader in industrial biotechnology, vitamins and carotenoid development, manufacturing and sales will expedite our ability to leverage our proprietary bio-based technology platform. We look forward to help accelerate DSM's ongoing efforts to develop, produce and commercialize the next generation of nutritional ingredients and other materials that will help the food, feed, chemicals and other industries produce more innovative and sustainable products, in a far more cost effective and responsible manner."


Microbia this January gained Food and Drug Administration GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) approval for its bio-based beta-carotene in food and beverage applications.

Marcus Lovell Smith, the biotechnology company’s chief executive officer, told NutraIngredientsUSA.com at the time: “Our natural β-carotene can be safely used as a food ingredient in numerous dairy and baked food products as well as processed fruits, vegetables and juices​.”

At that time it announced it had developed microbial strains that could produce commercially significant levels (more than five grams per liter) of lycopene via fermentation for the dietary supplement market.

The company’s Y. lipolytica technology can be expanded beyond carotenoids, he added, to produce any number of lipophilic (fat-loving) compounds using fermentation-based methods.

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