Ayana Bio launches “first-ever” plant cell-cultivated lemon balm and echinacea
19 Apr 2023 --- The process will yield products with the same bioactive composition of conventionally-grown botanicals and can directly replace their counterparts in food supplements for sleep, mood and immune support, says the plant cell technology company.
Ayana Bio further states that it created the non-GMO plant powders to overcome the supply challenges of agriculturally grown lemon balm and echinacea.
“Rather than relying on traditional agriculture, our ingredients are produced using plant cell cultivation in which factors such as climate, pesticides, soil and water contamination do not impact bioactive production,” Frank Jaksch, CEO of Ayana Bio, tells NutritionInsight.
“As a result, each production batch is uniform and identical to the molecular biomass makeup found in plants grown in the ground. Our technology can produce more consistent, affordable, sustainable and safer ingredients than botanically sourced alternatives.”
immune support properties, while lemon balm is known for its sleep, mood and calming benefits. However, both plants face harvesting issues such as adulteration, pesticides, contamination, inconsistent quality, seasonal weather variation, infection and limitation of active metabolites.He adds that echinacea is often sourced for its
Consumers increasingly turn to supplements or traditional botanical medicines, Jaksch notes. However, “there’s a clear need for safer, higher-quality, more standardized products to produce the kind of health benefits that can be substantiated by clinical data, rather than anecdotal evidence.”
The company states that the plant cell-derived ingredients are DNA-fingerprint certified and clean label. They have a standardized phytocomplex (mixture of active and inactive plant molecules), increased bioavailability, full traceability, neutral taste and color. They can be tailored to include higher concentrations of bioactives.
Jaksch explains that plant cell cultivated alternatives are genetically identical to the plants themselves. The bioactives represent “the whole plant based on the desired complex, from the root to the leaves.”
“Since our process doesn’t involve any genetic modification of these plant cells, our ingredients are equivalent to the natural lemon balm and echinacea ingredients currently on the market, produced via botanical extraction.”
The resulting alternatives are different from synthesizing compounds from microbes, as these produce single molecules found in plants but do not include the full spectrum of bioactives, he continues.
“Plant cell-derived phytocomplexes deliver the unique ‘cocktail’ of molecules only present in plants that can’t be replicated with one molecule alone. This is a superior advantage that allows formulators to use these plant-cell alternatives while relying on existing research from their botanical counterparts.”
Propagating cells from real plants
Ayana Bio uses plant cell cultivation technology to produce plant materials without growing plants. This process “starts by identifying the best plant cell lines – just like traditional plant breeding,” explains Jaksch.
“These plant cells are propagated from real plants (similar to stem cells) and assessed throughout the cell cultivation process for important characteristics like bioactive potency, stability and purity.”
“We further identify the ideal plant cell line for standardized quality and provide the nutrients the plant cells need to grow and multiply. This process is similar to brewing beer, but instead of growing yeast or bacteria, we grow plants directly from their cells.”
By providing these cells with carbon sources, oxygen, vitamins and minerals, Ayana Bio can produce the same plant biomass but without the plant itself, Jaksch continues. After a few weeks, the plant cell is fully propagated and can be harvested as an ingredient for health and wellness products.
“Imagine a world where a plant like echinacea, which takes about three years to mature in the ground, could be ready for use in a couple of weeks with plant cell cultivation. The end product could be echinacea biomass with an identical molecular mixture as soil-grown echinacea.”
Ayana Bio recently pledged US$3 million to accelerate cacao bioactives production with the same cellular cultivation technology.
Botanical sourcing issues
Due to limits on natural resources and questionable sourcing, there are increasing ingredient production shortcuts on sustainability, purity, safety and hygiene, warns Jaksch. “Botanical biomass cost skyrockets because of scarcity – for example, crop failures and increased demand – and often leads to product adulteration and fraud.”
“A recent survey that purchased commercially available dietary supplement products proved there’s a 50-50 chance consumers will get what’s on the label. Those are not only poor odds, but the potential adverse effects are also quite alarming.”
Research revealed that suppliers of intentionally adulterated botanical ingredients use shortcomings in commonly used laboratory methods.
Echinacea production methods make it challenging to identify the exact species from Echinacea angustifolia, E. pallida or E. purpurea. “It’s nearly impossible to control which species growers may produce because the species can be intermixed due to seed stock contamination and natural cross-pollination,” stresses Jaksch.
Cultivated echinacea and lemon balm face traditional agricultural issues, such as seasonal weather variation, infection, pesticides, contamination and inconsistent harvest quality.
Jaksch concludes that Ayana Bio’s “plant cell derived ingredients are more sustainable than traditional harvesting and extraction,” as they have more consistent quality while reducing their environmental impact.
This helps to meet consumer demand as they are “seeking out products for healthier lifestyles and a healthier planet.”
By Jolanda van Hal
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