French company's bio-based carotenoids pass test with flying colors

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Biotech company, Deinove, is moving up a gear in the process of getting its natural carotenoids for use in feed marketable.

The French producer uses Deinococcus bacteria as host strains, they naturally produce carotenoids.

We reported on developments around its R&D effort in this regard early last year. 

Deinove and Avril (which was then called Sofiproteol) signed off on the collaboration agreement, Color2B, in August 2014.

The project is co-financed by the two partners.

Deinove said its role is to focus on producing additives from its bacterial micro-factories, in an eco-friendly and economically viable way, while Avril is applying its expertise to feedstock selection and evaluation of the beneficial effects of the compounds for animals; it has extensive knowledge of the sector and associated regulations, and will market the technology.

Deinove said the effectiveness and bioavailability of its carotenoid compounds, derived from seven strains, have been confirmed in initial in vivo animal trials, which were run under the Color2B strategic project, in which the Montpellier-based firm collaborates with French agribusiness group, Avril.

“The compounds are used mainly for pigmentation of skin and yolks but they do have nutritional value as well - antioxidant functionality,” Emmanuel Petiot, CEO of Deinove, told us.

Though, he said he was unable to disclose a lot of details of the trial work due to confidentiality restrictions around the project. “Development of natural alternatives to the standard petroleum derived carotenoids is a very competitive business.”

Avril is hoping to leverage the huge demand for natural coloring options. Europe will be likely the first market it enters with the biobased carotenoids, then Asia and the US will follow, he said.

Poultry and aquaculture segments on radar

Broilers and layers in the poultry industry, and the salmon and trout farming sectors in the aquaculture arena are the likely target markets for the carotenoids, he said.

But regulatory approvals have to be secured and licensing models developed – it is anticipated commercialization of the compounds would begin around 2019.

The next phase of the Color2B project involves optimizing high performing strains and production conditions along with further validation work. “We now need to carry out extensive in vivo trials to replicate findings with a wider amount of animals, and we need to produce more bacteria biomass,” he said.

France Thevenieau, head of research and development at MiXscience, part of the Avril group, said its teams are working with Deinove on those aspects along with the commercialization process. He said the intention is that the feed supplements would, eventually, be included in its line of animal nutrition products.

New antibiotics

Deinove is also involved in the healthcare, nutrition, and cosmetics sectors. It has moved out of biofuels research due to the slump in oil prices, but has recently merger the R&D operations of it and its subsidiary, Deinobiotics, with the objective of researching new antibiotics. “Phase one of that project is focused on human medicine, given the good ROI expected there, but we have not completely ruled out the idea of developing new antibiotics also for animal production,” said the CEO.

In March, Deinove reported net loss in 2016 was around €6,3m compared with a loss of €6,4m in the previous year. It noted income for the year increased due to the completion of various milestones in its R&D programs, and due to the progress of the collaborative projects it is involved in, while operating expenses remained unchanged.

The net cash position amounted to +€9.3m at 31 December 2016, compared with +€12.4m in the same period in 2015. The biotech firm received €3.4m in milestone payments from Bpifrance and ADEME, the French environment and energy management agency during 2016.

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