Yali Bio Unveils Game-Changing Human Breast Milk Fat from Yeast, Set to Transform Nutritonal Value of Infant Formula

Yali Bio, a US biotech startup developing climate-smart ingredients using yeast in precision fermentation, announces a new game-changing development for infant nutrition: a bioidentical analog of human breast milk fat known as OPO.

Yali Bio says that its yeast-derived OPO will optimize and enhance the nutritional value of infant formulas, improving infant health outcomes; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 130 million newborn babies are fed infant formula at least partially.

OPO, scientifically termed 1,3-dioleolyl-2-palmitate, is naturally found in high concentrations in breast milk and plays a crucial role in nutrient absorption and the overall health of infants. However, according to Yali Bio, a cost-effective source of OPO for infant formula has yet to be available, with most products relying on fats derived from vegetable oils or cow’s milk that do not contain optimal levels of this nutritious fat. 

It is worth noting that last week, the Californian biotech Checkerspot announced an OPO analog developed using microalgae fermentation promising to revolutionize infant nutrition with human breast milk fats.

Yali Bio Senior Vice-President of Innovation Dr. Lorin-DeBonte
Dr. Lorin-DeBonte, Senior Vice-President of Innovation © Yali Bio

A new expert to launch innovations

Yali Bio also announced that Dr. Lorin DeBonte joined the company in January as Senior Vice President of Innovation to help bring the human breast milk fat analog and other products to market. 

Dr. DeBonte has previously served as an R&D Leader at Cargill. His expertise encompasses food, ingredients, and crop genetics. He has also worked in the development of various high-performance oils for the food service industry. In addition, Dr. DeBonte has an impressive track record, with over 100 patents and notable recognition from the American Oil Chemist Society (AOCS) for his contributions to edible applications.

DeBonte’s appointment follows the recruitment of Dr. Don DiMasi, a bioeconomy leader, and former Impossible Foods executive, as the SVP of engineering and biomanufacturing to scale Yali Bio’s animal-free fats. 

“I am excited to join Yali Bio and to leverage our precision fermentation platform to create the next generation of fat and lipid ingredients. I look forward to working with our customers to develop their next formulations with our tailored fat product lines,” shares DeBonte.

A small R&D bioreactor
A small R&D bioreactor © Yali Bio

Animal-free fats for multiple markets

Yali Bio, founded in 2021, engineers lipids and fats for the plant-based industry using yeasts, precision fermentation, and carbon-neutral feedstocks. Last year, the company secured $3.9 million in a seed round led by Essential Capital, bringing its total raised capital to $5 million.

The company’s fats have already been used to make more sustainable, non-animal versions of milk, ice cream, butter, and foie gras.

Dr. Yulin Lu, CEO of Yali Bio, comments: “We are at a pivotal point in the growth of our company, which is transitioning from a platform innovator with strong scientific proofs of concept, into a business that can serve multiple markets in food and nutrition.”

Yali Bio received a grant from The National Institutes of Health‘s (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for the R&D of the OPO fat. 

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