Food technology

Motif and NemaLife will advance plant-based food technology using in vivo testing

May 05, 2022 — Motif FoodWorks has disclosed a technology development partnership and investment with NemaLife Inc., a Texas-based microfluidic screening platform company. Motif invests in the development and use of Nemalife’s in vivo testing and protein characterization platform, which is new to the F&B industry.

Using a microfluidic approach, NemaLife can test and categorize proteins on a laboratory scale using significantly less product sample volume than current testing mechanisms.

Long term potential for the industry
A microfluidic approach can effectively identify Motif’s breakthrough food technology by testing its validity in terms of health effects, safety and efficacy. Data can also help guide R&D decisions, marketing claims, and streamline commercialization at scale.

“The long-term potential of NemaLife’s screening technology could open the door for Motif and the entire food industry,” said Stefan Baier, Head of Food Science at Motif.

“Identifying the most viable proteins from precision fermentation is not enough. We need to understand how these animal-free equivalents might work as food technology. Using NemaLife’s AI-assisted microfluidic screening platforms will provide early assessment that ensures a protein has the right functional characteristics and in vivo performance on its own and during formulation.

Product development pipeline
The current model of testing new ingredients is a slow, resource-intensive process that takes months or even years and requires samples of newly developed ingredients that are often not initially available in large quantities.

The collaboration will support Motif’s rapid food technology product pipeline using in vivo testing for the functional properties of plant proteins.NemaLife’s AI-assisted microfluidic screening platform can test small amounts of new ingredients in weeks.

Using NemaLife’s platform, Motif will be able to reduce risk and accelerate its product development to generate safe and functional food technologies with improved taste, texture and nutrition compared to dairy and to plant-based foods.

“We are excited to continue our work with the Motif team on NemaLife’s fast-growing in vivo and physical characterization platforms to determine the most promising ingredients,” adds Siva Vanapalli, CEO of NemaLife.

She believes that “Motif’s scientific focus is at the frontier of plant-based innovation” and is key to building a more sustainable future for healthy plant-based foods.

Previously, Motif CEO Jonathan McIntyre said FoodIngredientsFirst that “food science can nail the plant-based experience”. The research also found that more than 50% of consumers were “skeptical” that plant-based foods will ever look or taste like their animal-based counterparts.

Earlier this year, Motif revealed that it was expanding its development and manufacturing processes to advance the taste and nutritional profile of plant-based foods. The move came on the heels of Motif’s recent unveiling of beef-like heme-binding protein Hemami, following FDA approval of GRAS.

Meanwhile, sensory gaps have been highlighted in plant-based foods, and last June Motif revealed they were considering “radical sensory improvements” in plant-based analogues following funding from 226 million US dollars.

Edited by Elizabeth Green

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