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Aranex Biotech

Aranex Biotech

A Canadian food biotech company focused on the development of hypoallergenic peanuts

Aranex Biotech, Inc. is a Canadian synthetic agriculture startup based in Ireland. Founded in April 2015, Aranex Biotech is working to make "hypoallergenic peanuts." At its 2015 initiation, Aranex Biotech, Inc. was provided with seed funding by IndieBio, a subgroup of American venture capital group SOSV. CEO Chloe Gui then presented the concept at the 2015 IndieBio EU Demo Day, drawing the interest of another SOSV accelerator RebelBio. University College Cork, where Aranex Biotech laboratories are based, has partnered with IndieBio as part of an accelerator program for up and coming food developers.

The Development Process

According to Aranex CEO Chloe Gui, most other companies that are working to reduce peanut allergies have been focused on controlling the RNA or proteins from the culprit genes. She thinks the novelty of her company is that they are looking to develop genetically modified plants using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to completely remove three major allergenic genes from the plant. As of 2018, there were no available patents on their process or products, but Chloe Gui states that they plan to begin field test and clinical safety trial and seek regulatory approval starting in 2018.

Aranex Biotech plans to market their products specifically to farmers, with an ultimate goal of replacing traditional peanut crops. They also plan to work with companies that consume large quantities of peanuts to set up partnerships. They have already begun talks with Mars and the Hershey Company.

Developmental Hurdles

According to Aranex Biotech, one of their biggest hurdles will be whether they can continue to procure funding depending on whether CRISPR developed peanuts are considered GMO crops. There are different criteria in different countries that determine whether crops are labeled "GMO". Additionally, should Aranex's products be labeled GMO, they may face the same scrutiny and backlash that many GMO crops have faced, making it difficult for them to break into the market.

Other "Safe Peanut" Endeavors

In 1990, scientists identified the primary allergen in peanut plants, opening the doors for research into treatment and prevention. Since then, a handful of other genes have also been elucidated, and scientists are closer to understanding why peanuts evoke such a strong allergic reaction. Some food scientists have moved toward attempting to attenuate the allergens, making peanut products safer for consumers with allergies. Here are some of those endeavors:

  • A food bioprocessing company known as Alrgn Bio developed an "product cleansing" enzymatic process that uses the enzyme Alcalase to inactivate the proteins in various peanut food products.
  • Another group of food scientists from the University of Georgia led by Peggy Ozias-Akins used small interfering RNAS (siRNAs) to genetically modify peanut plants. Her experiments yielded plants with reduced levels of two of the primary allergens.
  • Plant biologist Hortense Dodo runs agricultural biotech IngateyGen, which uses genetic engineering to generate hypoallergenic peanuts for commercial sale. Although most of their products are modified peanuts, their company interest in to improve human health and nutrition, and they are also working on a fortified yam.

Timeline

People

Name
Role
Related Golden topics

Chloe Gui

Founder and CEO

David Lawrence

Scientific Advisor

Syngenta

Terry Huang

Co-founder and CTO

Further reading

Title
Author
Link
Type

Current and emerging immunotherapeutic approaches to treat and prevent peanut allergy. - PubMed - NCBI

Miller DS , et al.

Epidemiology of childhood peanut allergy. - PubMed - NCBI

Dyer AA , et al.

Peanut allergens. - PubMed - NCBI

Palladino C and Breiteneder H

The Health and Economic Outcomes of Peanut Allergy Management Practices. - PubMed - NCBI

Shaker M and Greenhawt M

Documentaries, videos and podcasts

Title
Date
Link

Chloe Gui, CEO Aranex

September 9, 2015

Companies

Company
CEO
Location
Products/Services

Icrisat

Dr. David Bergvinon

Patancheru, Hyderabad, India

Scientific R&D research on crops that grow in dry arid climate like those in India and various parts of Africa.

References