BASF and Glycosyn partnership to capitalise on HMO and gut health interest

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Representatives from BASF and Glycosyn signed a collaboration agreement endorsing their commitment to advance nutrition with novel HMOs. ©BASF/Glycosyn
Representatives from BASF and Glycosyn signed a collaboration agreement endorsing their commitment to advance nutrition with novel HMOs. ©BASF/Glycosyn
BASF are to enter an agreement with biotechnology firm Glycosyn to develop and commercialise human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) for use in dietary supplements, functional nutrition and medical food.

Under the terms of the agreement, Glycosyn grants BASF the exclusive license of its HMO patent portfolio for gut health that extends beyond infant nutrition to gastrointestinal health.

“The properties of HMO and their natural origin (known to be an essential part of breast milk with health benefits for infants) make them an ideal ingredient for all market segments,” ​said Stefan Ruedenauer, director of research & development and scientific marketing at BASF Human Nutrition.

“We expect products in the dietary supplement and functional nutrition markets first, but based on growing scientific evidence, we also see opportunities to penetrate medical food applications. 

“BASF and Glycosyn target to expand the science and application platforms as part of the strategic partnership.”

Glycosyn's patent portfolio includes the use of E.coli​ and other microbial strains to produce around fifteen additional HMOS at lab scale for use in infant formula and other nutritional and health applications.

Recent research has found among their immunomodulatory functions, HMOs also play a role in promoting the growth of specific beneficial bacteria including Bifidobacteria​.

Further details of the agreement see BASF extend its offering of the most abundant HMO, 2’-Fucosyllactose (2’-FL) to customers worldwide with Glycosyn also contributing its scientific expertise.

“Glycosyn is a forerunner with long-standing expertise in the field of HMOs,”​ said Ruedenauer.

“They are well connected to an extensive science network, one of which is with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – a paediatric hospital renowned for their HMO research.

“Glycosyn’s IP and research position coupled with BASF’s ability to manufacture 2’-FL at scale and global go-to-market access culminate in a shared vision to bring the benefits of HMO across all age groups into relevant market segments.”

Increasing 2’-FL interest

BASF’s 2’-FL, branded Prebilac, is the firm’s infant formula ingredient developed in-house and designed for large-scale production.

Its strong bifidogenic effect along with documented clinical studies further suggest that 2'-FL plays a role in gut maturation, brain development and in modulating systemic immune functions.

Launched this year, Prebilac is now available for use in dietary supplements with the first consumer products created from this partnership expected to be launched by the second half of the year in the US and the EU.

The ingredient was the focus of an agreement​ between BASF and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) last year intended to develop HMO molecules to aid in the gut microbiome’s development as well as brain health, for infants, children and adults.

“We are already seeing a steady increase in the amount of science emerging around the benefits of HMO in adults,”​ said Ruedenauer.

“With the commercial availability of 2’-FL, the most abundant HMO, we can expect increased consumer and market interest in the near future.

“Gut health is fast becoming one of the most relevant health concerns for consumers worldwide, especially among discerning consumers who are taking a proactive stance in managing their health.”

Glycosyn agreements

Glycosyn, located in Woburn, Massachusetts in the US, has become something of a ‘go-to’ partner in the infant formula industry having formed a similar agreement with FrieslandCampina DOMO in the development of their 2’-FL ingredient.

Branded Aequival, it is the first product in a range of HMOs now commercially available, in which FrieslandCampina has set up a dedicated 2’-FL manufacturing plant in Italy.

In November 2018, Glcosyn also paired up with Ginkgo Bioworks, in a €12.5m deal to produce HMOs for products intended to target the gut microbiota.

“The time has come to bring the benefits of HMO to consumers worldwide who suffer from gut discomfort or even diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),”​ said John Garrett, co-CEO, Glycosyn.

“BASF’s scaled state-of-the-art production and extensive global customer access makes them the ideal partner for us to jointly tap into this huge market potential and take nutrition to the next level.”

“Our partnership with Glycosyn thus marks another important milestone to grow the science and availability of 2’-FL and its benefits,”​ added Ruedenauer

“Leveraging our state-of-the-art production and the partnership with Glycosyn to provide the human nutrition market with high quality Prebilac 2’-FL is a keystone in delivering that vision.”

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