Inspiration for a new company can come from many different places. For Maya Ashkenazi Otmazgen, a biomedical engineer, while breastfeeding her first child, the idea of harnessing the health benefits of breast milk, but in nutritional supplements and adult wellness, came up with the idea.
“I wondered why we didn’t understand the proteins in breast milk and try to find bioequivalents in other sources,” she tells TechCrunch. Breast milk is the ‘gold standard’ for nutrients, and adults are deprived of one of life’s greatest resources.
She collaborated with Dr. Ariel Auerbach and Eli Lerner in 2018 to form a team your lordLtd., an Israeli food technology startup focused on creating superfoods by extracting proteins from bovine colostrum or its plant-based analogues.
Together, the company’s team has synthesized a library of more than 1,500 proteins known to be biologically active in human breast milk. They then determined that bovine colostrum is one of those “other sources” that contains more than 400 homologous proteins with more than 95% bio-similarity to breast milk.
Colostrum is a nutrient-rich substance found in mammalian milk for the first few days after birth. It is often disposed of in dairies, which accounts for more than 5 billion liters of waste annually, Ashkenazi Outmagen said.
She also noted that the company is the first to “identify and extract functional proteins from bovine colostrum” and make functional milk protein mixtures from that colostrum, using a protein discovery and computational biology platform that can be used in various immune-enhancing applications.
Ashkenazi Outmagen added that the milk protein mixture is like a white powder that is digested in the human body similarly to breast milk and is suitable for adding to food, even cooked foods like pasta, without losing function.
The Maolac mixture has also been shown to produce higher overall efficacy at lower doses. Space competitors charge $500 per kilogram, and Ashkenazi Outmagen says her company will charge a similar fee for its product, but Maolac could offer better efficacy at a fraction of the unit economics.
Maolac is making profits upfront at this point and is working on its first line of anti-inflammatory drugs, one for athletes to reduce muscle fatigue and improve recovery time, and another to improve mobility in seniors.
Ashkenazi Otmazgin expects these products to hit the market in 2023. It also claims that the market potential for functional components is huge, around $22 billion annually.
Help Accelerate Products is a new $3.2 million seed round that closed in January. OurCrowd led the investment and was joined by Strauss’s Kitchen FoodTech Hub Group, Food Tech Lab, Ventures Israel, NAOMI Investments and Mediterranean Towers Ventures. The investment boosts the company’s total funding to just over $4 million.
“The idea of turning the first nutrient-rich milk of just-born cows into a source of human protein is a stroke of pure genius,” OurCrowd CEO John Medved said in a written statement. Billions of liters of bovine colostrum are discarded every year. Maolac takes this waste and creates a product with potentially huge benefit to millions at a time when the world is desperately searching for new, sustainable sources of protein. The company is an excellent example of a circular economy in action.”
The new funding allows Maolac to build a pilot facility with small-scale production capabilities of approximately 100 kg per month and create analyzes and samples for clients and clinical trials. Ashkenazi Otmazgin also plans to add the company’s team of 12 employees.
In addition, the company is currently working on obtaining regulatory approval in both the United States and Europe and is in discussions with food and nutritional supplement companies in Israel and dairy companies around the world.