An Israeli startup is developing “breast milk” for babies and adults alike
“Breast milk is the best food for a baby.” You may have heard this phrase in various commercials, but breast milk also has great benefits for an adult (and even a pet). Most adult humans don’t tend to drink breast milk but the Israeli startup claims that it produces the next best thing – something close to breast milk that is not even made from real milk. They are about to launch their first products that could help shorten recovery times.
Get the best out of mushrooms
The startup Maolac has created a proteomic prediction platform, which actually takes information of protein profiles in breast milk and compares them against information of other protein profiles, such as that of cow milk or even plant-based raw materials. Through this comparison they are finding the proteins that have the positive effects that breast milk has. In a conversation with Geektime Maya Ashkenazi Otmazgin, CEO of Maolac, explained that the platform uses a number of details: the biological indication, characterization of the biological pathway that the end user will go through (ie, which proteins, properties, sensitivities, etc.), definition of who the end user is (human, cat, dog, etc.), the raw material from which the desired proteins are to be extracted from and the desired similarities between the proteins.
The output is a list of potential proteins that meet the manufacturer’s requirement, and then, the system filters those matching proteins, and puts them to use. “The bioinformatics work focuses on the development of the above platform and uses AI and ML tools to study the biological and metabolic pathway in which proteins naturally participate in the human body. Moreover, it assesses the face of cross-referencing information according to keywords in large and approved scientific databases,” claims Ashkenazi Otmazgin.
The same proteins are a type of super-food, according to the company, they carry very useful health properties. Maolac can extract these quality proteins both from regular milk, but also from less expected sources such as mushrooms, yeast, algae, and other plants. Most of the time, the initial milk of cows is discarded and not used, but in Maolac they can use this part, otherwise considered to be waste, and create a mixture from it that strengthens the immune system and helps maintain a balanced digestive system.
Maolac have already developed their first product line, which they say includes a powerful anti-inflammatory product, which is intended for athletes and the elderly, as it can help reduce muscle tension and shorten recovery time. In the future, the company plans to produce another product that is supposed to help prevent intestinal infections in humans and pets. Today it produces raw materials for the B2B working industry, but in our conversation, Ashkenazi Otmazgin said that by the end of 2023 they are hoping to have their products on the shelves or in other products in the pharma and food industries. When I recently met the company at TheKitchen’s demo, they presented their product in an energy snack designed for recovery, an energy drink, and even in face cream.
Not the first, but a bit different
As impressive as Maolac’s development is, they are not the first to harness the features of breast milk, not even in Israel. Wilk, for example, tries to produce breast milk and cow’s milk in a laboratory for similar purposes, but when I ask Ashkenazi Otmazgin about the differences between the two approaches, she claimed that Wilk’s is a Western genetic engineering process that is completely different from Maolac’s process. American competitors also focus on some specific proteins in methods of fermentation and genetic engineering, while Maolac is able to identify 1,500 different proteins for different purposes.
Yesterday (Tuesday), Maolac’s announced the completion of a $3.2 million seed fundraising round led by OurCrowd with participation from The Kitchen FoodTech Hub of the Strauss Group, NEOME, Mediterranean Towers and VentureIsrael. The company plans to use the funds to build a new production facility on a small scale that can produce samples for customers. The money will also be used for clinical trials.