November 8, 2007
Natur Research Ingredients of Los Angeles has announced that it has obtained the exclusive worldwide license from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), Madison, to manufacture and distribute Cweet™ Natural Intense Sweetener, which is derived from brazzein, found in a West African fruit. The sweetener, which tastes like cane sugar, is 1,000 times sweeter than sugar on a weight-basis. It is a zero-calorie sweetener with no aftertaste, and is heat-stable.
According to Loren Miles, CEO, Natur Research Ingredients, scientists and the sweetener community have long been aware of the potential of brazzein, the fruit of Pentadiplandra brazzeana Baillon, which has been consumed by humans in West Africa for thousands of years. “Early attempts to commercialize this remarkable natural sweetener failed, because no practical manufacturing process was ever developed that would allow the product to reach the marketplace,” he said.
A recent breakthrough achieved by Fariba M. Assadi-Porter, Ph.D., staff scientist, University of Wisconsin, Madison, has solved the problem. He developed an expression and purification protocol suited to mass production within the pharmaceutical and food industries, making it possible to use existing infrastructure and to access worldwide manufacturing capability.
“My focus has been on developing an expression and purification system for the production of this challenging, naturally sweet protein,” said Assadi-Porter. “We have validated such protocols and the sweetness profiles and are now in the production scale-up phase.”
“Cweet will represent one of the first natural intense protein sweeteners to be available as an alternative to sucralose and aspartame,” said Miles. “I believe demand for a natural intense sweetener will be a fast-growing segment of the market. Each intense sweetener will have its own share of the universe. But now, manufacturers and consumers will have a natural choice with Cweet. I believe Cweet represents a significant ingredient breakthrough for the food and beverage industry and, ultimately, for consumers.”
Cweet will be seeking GRAS status through self-affirmation and then full GRAS approval from the FDA.
“We are thrilled to be working with Dr. Assadi-Porter on the Cweet program and wish to acknowledge the WARF organization for their superb support as well,” said Miles.
As a protein, he noted, Cweet is safe for diabetics, very soluble in water and heat stable, characteristics that are highly desirable to food and beverage manufacturers. Unlike most natural sweeteners, Cweet provides a sweetness profile that is very close to sucrose with no aftertaste.
It is estimated that demand for alternative sweeteners will grow to $1.1 billion by 2010, mainly in diet soft drinks and tabletop uses, according to The Freedonia Group, Cleveland.
“As a new sweetener resource, we will be seeking sustainable manufacturing processes with a low carbon footprint,” stated Miles. “Further, because the brazzein plant is native to Africa, we are exploring establishing a foundation that will contribute to humanitarian causes in Africa once production and distribution has started.”
In 1925, WARF was established as the first university-based technology transfer office in the United States. It supports world-class research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by funding research, protecting the intellectual property of university faculty, staff and students, and by licensing inventions resulting from their work to benefit the world.
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