Protein in yeast: Taiwan firm develops patented technology for producing MT

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

HMT Biotech says one of the targeted consumer groups is the senior population, since the level of MT in the body will decrease along with age. ©Getty Images
HMT Biotech says one of the targeted consumer groups is the senior population, since the level of MT in the body will decrease along with age. ©Getty Images

Related tags Protein Taiwan Antioxidant

Taiwan-based Formosa HMT Biotech has developed a technology for producing metallotionein (MT) protein in yeast, and plans to sell the ingredient for use in nutraceuticals by the end of this year.

MT is naturally found in the skin and upper gastrointestinal tract for regulating stomach acid pH, taste, and texture discrimination of the tongue.

Studies have shown that it can protect against oxidative stress, free radicals, and heavy metals.

Managing director of HMT Biotech Tony Henry told NutraIngredients-Asia​ that yeast was used as a medium as it helped to provide a higher yield of MT.

Production of artificial MT in yeasts allows to obtain a very pure and active product in sufficient amounts for market supply.

“Yeasts have some features that make them an ideal system for production of human proteins, they are eukaryotes, like humans, and are able to produce complex proteins with the correct necessary modifications.

“Also, yeasts have been used for centuries by humans in the production of bread and beer and they easy to cultivate, totally safe and well known,” ​Henry said.

The production technology was granted patent in Taiwan​ in 2017, in the EU last year, and pending patent in the US and China.

The firm is partnering Taiwanese supplement firm Grape King Bio in the actual production of MT and the trial production was completed recently.

The production is carried out in fermenters and the MT produced will be purified from the culture medium using chromatographic techniques.

 “We are now using 200L fermentation which could be considered pilot-run scale, however we have to produce at least three to four batches, and we will also be producing at one ton which should be considered commercial scale within the next four to six weeks.”

Seniors’ market

The senior population is one of the target consumer groups, since the level of MT in the body would decrease along with age.

The firm hopes to sell the ingredient for use in nutraceutical products in the B2B market by the end of this year. Henry said that the firm had been in touch with leading US supplement brands for commercial partnerships. 

However, before further developments could take place, the firm would need to go through the New Dietary Ingredients (NDI) notification process with the US FDA.

He also said that securing NDI would also helped the firm market its MT to the Asian markets.

“We will need to get the NDI from the US FDA. Once we have that, it is also easier to enter the Asian markets,” ​he said.

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