Helaina Scales Up Precision Fermentation Lactoferrin, a ‘Gateway’ to Better Nutrition

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New York-based biotech firm Helaina, which is using precision fermentation to revolutionize the infant formula sector, says it is now extending its efforts to develop functional foods for every stage of the life cycle.

Helaina says its proteins have the potential to enhance immunity for all ages, disrupt the $70 billion infant nutrition category, and improve health outcomes for formula-fed infants. Traditional infant formula may provide calories for growth, but the biotech firm says it still lacks the nutritional properties of breast milk. Helaina’s innovative infant formula aims to bridge this gap.

The company, which launched in 2019, has announced several major milestones on its journey to commercialization following its $20 million Series A raise in 2021.

Helaina team | Courtesy

“Helaina is now producing Lactoferrin at scale, but that’s just the beginning,” Laura Katz, Helaina’s CEO and founder, said in a statement. “We’re working to change the landscape of functional foods one immune-boosting protein at a time.”

Precision fermentation lactoferrin

Helaina says Lactoferrin, its primary ingredient, is the first in a series of bioactive proteins to be biomanufactured through its precision fermentation platform. The company says that by partnering with third-party manufacturers, it is able to mass produce the breast milk protein known for enhanced nutrient absorption, cognitive support, and antimicrobial defense. The company is focusing on immune-nourishing, planet-positive ingredients not derived from animals, such as bovine Lactoferrin, which it says can also help shape the future of nutrition.

As Helaina transitions from research and development to large-scale commercialization readiness, it recently reached a significant manufacturing milestone with the production of more than 75,000 servings of its Lactoferrin.

Helaina was the first company to introduce the immunity properties of breast milk proteins to food for all stages of life, raising more than $25 million from leading investors to bring the tech to market.

Redefining functional foods

The company has also announced the addition of former CEO of Evolve BioSystems and executive at Mead Johnson Nutrition and P&G, Tim Brown, who recently joined the Helaina board. Brown brings decades of experience in OTC healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and infant nutrition brands to the company during a crucial phase in its commercialization journey. “I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the Helaina team at this critical inflection point,” Brown said.

“Helaina is challenging the status quo around what food can do for immunity,” said Nate Cooper of Barrel Ventures. “With this latest manufacturing achievement, the company is now moving toward bringing their proteins to market. I was drawn to Helaina for the possibilities of its precision fermentation platform, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for bringing bioactive proteins to a range of functional foods,” he said.

“Our precision fermentation platform can make all bioactive proteins to support immune health, and is a gateway to a new and reliable source of high-value ingredients,” Katz said. “We’re now primed to move from R&D toward commercialization.”


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