Start-up looks to benefits of mother’s milk to bring new bioactive ingredient for medical food space

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/ImageSource
Image: Getty/ImageSource

Related tags Milk Breast milk Whey

Israel’s Exosomm has developed proprietary immune supportive natural exosomes from upcycled whey.

The Jerusalem-based biofood tech start-up has explored the natural mechanisms inherent in human breastmilk to create a novel bioactive ingredient that can potentially support millions of adults with inflammatory disorders.

Based on its scientific findings Exosomm developed an innovative technology that isolates exosomes, natural particles in maternal milk that play an important role in the healthy development of the immune system.

Exosomm upcycles by-products of the traditional cheese making process to create this potent functional ingredient. While still a young start-up, it has already reached commercial production capacity of its patent-protected exosomes for the medical food space.

The start-up told FoodNavigator Europe its key targets are medical food brands and food formulas intended for special dietary needs. For example, it can provide exosome enrichment to powdered formulas designed for patients with inflammatory bowel syndrome. The exosomes can also be integrated as a functional ingredient in numerous food and beverage applications such as shake formulas, whey powders, yoghurts or even nutrition bars.

Maternal milk is recognized as the key vital resource for infants to provide them with the essential elementary nutrients needed to promote optimal growth and wellbeing. It has been linked to protection against various diseases, such as infections, inflammation, and obesity, and plays a crucial role in developing the immune system. Scientific inquiry attributes these benefits predominantly to the presence of exosomes.

Uncovering the power of exosomes

Exosomes are small nanoparticles produced by the body’s cells that naturally accumulate at high concentrations in mother’s milk. They contain beneficial microRNAs: small, single-stranded, non-coding RNA molecules shown in studies to have a significant impact on early child development and also on the infant’s future health. The Exosomm research team were reportedly ‘astonished’ to find that different mammals (human, cow, or sheep) share similar exosome composition, indicating the evolutionary importance of exosomes in offspring.

“The technology is based on cutting-edge scientific discoveries and is inspired by the virtues of mother’s milk and its unique health properties,” ​said Exosomm Managing Director Professor Shimon Reif. He also heads up the Department of Paediatrics at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and is an opinion leader in the field of paediatric gastroenterology.

Following years of dedicated research, his team published findings revealing the potential role of exosomes in reducing the burden of immune-related disorders, such as Inflammatory Bowel diseases (IBD- like Crohn’s and Colitis), diabetes, and metabolic disorders in adults. This research spurred the establishment of Exosomm.

“We believe adults, can benefit from exosomes as a valuable nutrient to help better manage chronic metabolic inflammatory disorders and to boost overall wellbeing,”​ added Reif. “Further clinical research is in the pipeline, and we currently are focusing our studies on the role of exosomes in managing IBD conditions, such as Crohn’s and Colitis.”

Exosomm said its research has demonstrated that exosomes can boost resilience and enhance the nutritional status of the 10 million IBD patients, and with no adverse effects. Exosomes have also shown to boost glucose tolerance and prevent pancreatic and liver damage, the company claimed.

“This exosome breakthrough will bring natural relief and improve the quality of life for millions of IBD sufferers globally, and of millions more with diabetes and other metabolic disorders,” ​Reif added.

The start-up has so far accrued USD1M pre-seed investment from the Ofek- Galil incubator supported by the Israeli Innovation Authority.

The Exosomm team including Managing Director Professor Shimon Reif, far right, and co-founder and CEO Netta Granot, second from the left
The Exosomm team including Managing Director Professor Shimon Reif, far right, and co-founder and CEO Netta Granot, second from the left

A new powerful role for cheese side streams

The development also taps into the upcycling trend. Developed in the Israeli Hadassah University Medical center, the technology consists of naturally isolated exosomes from upcycled by-products of the traditional cheese making process to use as a bioactive ingredient.

“One of the challenges was to transform the developed technology into a commercially viable process,”​ explained Exosomm co-founder and CEO Netta Granot. “It was essential to find a facility that can collect the whey left over from cheesemaking and process it in a way that ensures the isolated exosomes maintain their unique set of bioavailable properties. We employ a wholly natural process, without chemicals, while adhering to all the required regulations for food safety and quality.

“Moreover, it was important for us to derive the milk benefits without exerting any burden on milk production. That’s why we run a circular system that depends solely on the whey side stream of the cheese industry.”

The start-up has also collaborated with Ba’emek Tech, subsidiary of Tnuva Food Industries, Ltd., Israel’s leading food group and producer of fresh dairy products. Ba’emek specializes in the production of whey products and provides the raw material as well as the full commercial technological infrastructure necessary for EXOXOMM’s progress and scale-up goals.

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