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Producing recombinant lactoferrin

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TurtleTree has announced the launch of the world's first sustainable lactoferrin, LF+, made with precision fermentation. LF+ revolutionizes the future of nutrition in various ways, like optimizing infant health to increasing performance nutrition. Since lactoferrin has so many benefits, supporting the immune system, the ability to aid iron regulation, gut health nourishment, and supporting many aspects of overall health, it's no wonder that it has become an essential supplement since it was first discovered in 1939.

What is lactoferrin?

One of the most important components in growth is proteins, which perform different functions in the body, such as regulating iron and strengthening the digestive system and the immune system. Among these bioactive proteins, we can mention lactoferrin, which is an effective glycoprotein. Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein found naturally in human and animal milk, and bodily fluids such as tears and saliva. Animal milk, like cow's milk, contains very low concentrations of lactoferrin. On the other hand, human milk, especially colostrum, contains the highest amount of lactoferrin.

Uses of lactoferrin

One of the most notable benefits of lactoferrin is its natural ability to regulate iron metabolism, which is essential to maintaining optimal physical performance, making lactoferrin supplements ideal for supporting the health of athletes. Lactoferrin is also able to maintain a healthy gut barrier system, helping in optimal nutrient absorption. Lactoferrin supplements can therefore be very helpful in supporting gut health, which in turn can help maintain aspects of mental health like stress regulation.

How is lactoferrin produced?

The extraction and production of this high-value protein is from cow's milk and several steps are involved in the current commercial lactoferrin production methods. In the first step, fats have to be stripped from the milk (fat impedes lactoferrin extraction). The milk is then run through costly resin columns to extract the lactoferrin. This laborious process opens up many opportunities for potential spoilage and contamination. The whole process requires a lot of milk and is incredibly resource-intensive. One liter of milk contains only about 100 mg of lactoferrin. For better understanding, each lactoferrin supplement capsule on the market contains an average of 200 mg of lactoferrin, which requires approximately two liters of milk to produce.

LF+: The future of sustainable nutrition

Although raising livestock occupies a large part of agricultural land, dairy and meat alone do not meet the protein needs of society. This is where the science of the food industry can play an important role in environmental issues such as water, energy, and less land by using new methods.
Therefore, it is clear that the production method of lactoferrin should be redesigned to be more sustainable and accessible. As the world's first precision-fermented lactoferrin, LF+ will introduce a new stage in the world of lactoferrin production.

With precision fermentation, lactoferrin can be created directly from highly productive microbes instead of sifting through thousands of liters of milk. By removing the need for milk, we can forego the carbon emissions associated with cattle farming, an estimated 91% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 29% reduction in energy usage, 95% reduction in water consumption, and 81% reduction in land use, in fact.

Food safety standards will also be improved: by simplifying the production of lactoferrin in a lab-controlled environment, common health concerns associated with conventional agriculture, such as foodborne illness through animal feed contamination or antibiotic resistance, will be addressed.

Additionally, precision fermentation also enables more than 100-fold higher yields compared to current lactoferrin production methods. This opens up the potential for consumers to improve their personal nutrition at a much more sustainable cost than now. This is a future where consumers no longer have to choose between their health and the planet's health.
Dr. Alta Schnitzler, the chief manager of this company, stated: "The production of this product is important from a commercial point of view, apart from the health benefits it brings. Currently, the price of each kilo of lactoferrin is 750-1500 dollars, while the price of each kilo of casein or whey is less than 14 dollars. By improving the processes, a healthy profit margin can also be obtained."

Moving Lactoferrin Beyond Just Supplements

The use of lactoferrin is mainly summarized in infant formula. Unfortunately, problems such as high extraction and production costs, few resources, and the market's need for large volumes have greatly limited its use in other food products. But, with the scalability potential of LF+ enabled by precision fermentation, we’re envisioning a better future where all segments of the population can enjoy the benefits of lactoferrin through everyday food products.

 Elderly Nutrition
LF+ makes it possible for delicious products to doubly support the immune system and gut health, preferences, and unique lifestyle of each senior.

Performance Nutrition
In addition to the health properties of LF+, we can mention the great potential of this valuable substance in the nutrition of athletes and its effects in improving muscle strength, endurance, resistance to fatigue, and energy efficiency. Also, people who wish to improve their health and cognitive performance can also benefit from daily foods enriched with LF+.

Infant Nutrition
Formula is not a perfect replacement for human milk because it lacks key bioactive proteins such as lactoferrin. Currently, due to the high price of lactoferrin, only 3-17% of infant formulas are enriched with lactoferrin. For practically all infant formula to contain lactoferrin, lactoferrin production must first be scalable to meet the highest safety standards for infant health. With precision fermentation technology, the company is on its way to providing next-generation optimal nutrition through formula boosted with LF+.

Bottom line

On March 22, 2023, TurtleTree Company succeeded in producing the first lactoferrin in a large volume without the use of animals using a precise fermentation method. This recombinant producer named LF+ will be released to the market by the end of the year after the approval of the FDA, and next year it will be widely available for enrichment in all kinds of foods such as sparkling water, sorbet, mocktails, and plant-based milk (Plant-based milk is completely different from cow's milk and no trace of lactoferrin can be seen in it).
According to Dr. Alta Schnitzler, "The production and development of this product will greatly help the growth of other products that are based on the same technology, and this is our first step."





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