Double Rainbow ramps up production of ancient natural painkiller

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Viewstock / Getty Images
© Viewstock / Getty Images

Related tags biosynthetic pain relief botanicals Traditional chinese medicine

Biotech company Double Rainbow has announced commercial-scale biosynthetic production of gastrodin, a natural analgesic that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

“Rare ingredients with health-promoting properties are only effective if they are safe and widely available to those who could benefit,” ​said Jing-Ke Weng, co-founder at DoubleRainbow Biosciences (Double Rainbow). “Gastrodin is a powerful natural analgesic, and we are excited at the potential it holds to advance human health.”​ 

This is the Massachusetts-based company’s second bioengineered ingredient introduced through its wholly owned subsidiary Landkind, which bills itself as “the world's first sustainable dietary supplement company”​. Its first ingredient LK-01 Pure Salidroside​, an adaptogen traditionally sourced from the botanical Rhodiola rhodea​, launched last summer to supplement cognitive and athletic performance.

The potential of gastrodin

According to ResearchandMarkets, the global analgesics industry will reach $50.6 billion by 2030, and Double Rainbow expects demand for gastrodin within that market to grow significantly over the next five years. 

“With the high demand for new personalized therapies to better manage or prevent the development of chronic pain and opioid abuse, gastrodin is well poised to enter new markets around the world,”​ the company said in a statement.

Isolated from the tubers of the rare Gastrodia elata ​perennial plant, the compound has been used for more than 2,000 years in Asia to treat convulsions, tetanus, headaches, epilepsy, dizziness, numbness, rheumatism and paralysis. Known as Tian Ma in traditional Chinese medicine, it “extinguishes interior wind to stop convulsions, calms the liver and suppresses Yang”​ to calm dizziness and headache, according to the Asanté Academy of Chinese Medicine.

“Double Rainbow chose to focus on gastrodin as the second in the pipeline because it’s a natural analgesic with a wide range of potential therapeutic applications,” ​Grant Smith, vice president of corporate strategy and chief brand officer at Landkind, told NutraIngredients-USA.

Modern clinical trials have explored its potential in an array of applications from protecting against chronic inflammatory pain and treating migraines, vertigo and Tourette's System to preventing cognitive decline related to cardiopulmonary bypass and recovering neurological function following spinal cord injury. It has been shown to increase elasticity of the arterial wall to expand blood vessels in the brain and increase blood supply.

Harmony and Prism: More to come

Through its nature-identical biosynthesis platform Harmony and enzyme modification platform Prism, Double Rainbow seeks to harness advances in genomics, metabolomics and synthetic biology to provide a sustainable alternative to plant extraction or chemical synthesis.

“By combining Double Rainbow’s technologies, the team can modify molecules when necessary to help optimize their pharmacodynamic properties through our Prism enzymatic glycosylation platform,”​ Smith explained. “Prism’s precision glycosylation enables the creation of new molecular entities with potentially enhanced solubility, bioavailability and tissue specificity​.

He added that the company plans to pursue a robust preclinical and clinical research program to further validate the safety and health benefits of gastrodin both in isolation and potential combination for pain relief and mental wellness. In addition, it expects to commercialize over a dozen medicinal ingredients including several combination LK-01 products by 2025 and is exploring biosynthetic kavalactones in partnership with Kalai Pharmaceuticals for mental and substance-use disorders. In nature, kavalactones are found in kava roots and Alpinia zerumbet​ (Shell ginger).

“Within consumer health, the company sees the most opportunities in using our technologies to reduce threats to rare or endangered plants, while delivering Landkind products that promote sustainable energy, higher levels of cognitive performance and healthy aging,”​ Smith said.

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