Rapid prototyping of enzymes that improve digestion and health

Good digestion is a key factor in overall health. In particular, protein digestion combats muscle loss, improves nutrition, and boosts immunity. 

Scientists at Digestiva, a Bay Area startup, have developed proprietary enzymes that improve protein digestibility. 

In June 2020, Digestiva’s team sought out ABPDU’s resources and expertise to scale up and validate their technology to an industry-relevant level. 

“Having access to large scale equipment for fermentation and recovery, in combination with small scale fermentation equipment, is not that common,” said Joel Cherry, CEO of Digestiva. “I saw a huge advantage in being able to do proof of concept and flesh out experiments before going into larger scale.” 

ABPDU’s team designed an experiment to optimize and scale up Digestiva’s technology from shake flask scale to 300 liters, as well as downstream processing to purify the product. ABPDU initiated bench scale studies in early July and by late August, within two months, the collaboration resulted in the generation of the first kilogram of the product. 

“Accomplishing this in such a short amount of time was really impressive,” said Wilson Mak, CSO of Digestiva. 

Though the end result was promising, the project’s path was not linear. Halfway through, certain components of Digestiva’s process needed to be altered.

“ABPDU was great to work with on that score,” Cherry said. “They were accommodating and were able to design what the new process would look like, which helped move the project forward.”

Cherry said that despite not being able to physically be in ABPDU’s lab due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conference calls and messages prevented any communication issues. 

“It went extremely smoothly, and it was a great collaboration,” he said. 

Digestiva’s next step is to move forward with animal and human trials of their technology and then transfer the process developed by ABPDU to another facility to generate more material.