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 tests and clinical safety trials and seek regulatory approval starting in 2018.
Aranex Biotech plans to market its products specifically to farmers, with the 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.
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 a "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.
Founder and CEO
Co-founder and CTO
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Documentaries, videos and podcasts
Chloe Gui, CEO Aranex
September 9, 2015
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.
- CompanyA company, abbreviated 'co.', is a legal entity made up of an association of people, be they natural, legal, or a mixture of both, for carrying on a commercial or industrial enterprise.
- Synthetic biologyInterdisciplinary branch of biology and engineering, applying multiple disciplines to build artificial biological systems for research, engineering, and medical applications.
- AllergyAn inflammatory response driven by antigen recognition by antibodies bound to fc receptors on mast cells or basophils, occurring within minutes after exposure of a sensitized individual to the antigen, and leading to the release of a variety of infla
- Genetically modified organismOrganisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering methods specifically
- CRISPRClustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) is a prokaryotic adaptive immune response that provides immunity against foreign nucleic acids, such as viral DNA and bacterial plasmids, through the use of crRNAs (CRISPR RNAs) and associated Cas genes.