Following the discovery of a sweet protein from honey truffles last year, MycoTechnology, Inc. has made strides toward commercialization, demonstrating the product’s potential as an alternative to sugar and existing sweeteners.

In less than a year since the announcement of its discovery, MycoTechnology has scaled production from the lab bench to 3,000-liter tanks, improving production process efficiency, optimizing costs and validating safety and digestibility.

Sweet proteins offer non-nutritive alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners. Honey truffle sweetener is emerging as a unique, clean-label addition to this category. With a long history of consumption, honey truffles have been referenced in historical texts as part of the human diet as early as 2,000 BCE, recognized for their intensely sweet taste. After isolating the protein responsible for this sweet taste, MycoTechnology used precision fermentation technology to produce the first honey truffle sweetener, ranging from 1,000-2,500 times sweeter than sucrose.

Recent safety evaluations, including genetic testing for toxicity, allergenicity and digestibility, have shown positive results. The protein is not considered to be allergenic or toxic and is fully digestible by the human GI tract. Rather than being absorbed in its intact form, it breaks down completely into amino acids that are routinely found in other dietary protein sources such as meat, fish or eggs. In silico analysis also suggests that the molecule has no similarity to any other known protein structures and therefore has minimal potential for other secondary effects beyond sweetness.

“Following global best practices in partnership with world-class industry experts, our findings suggest that honey truffle sweetener is likely to be an ideal general-purpose sweetener for foods and beverages,” says Sue Potter, senior director, global regulatory affairs. “We’re confident in the results we’ve received so far, and we’re on track for regulatory submissions in key global jurisdictions.”

As MycoTechnology continues to scale production in its facility, the company is also making improvements in strain development, process yield and quality. Simplified downstream processing will allow for flexible and less capital-intensive manufacturing, positioning honey truffle sweetener to be economically competitive with sugar and other high-intensity sweeteners.

“Our team has achieved remarkable results, exceeding initial expectations for speed of scale-up, mechanistic understanding of the protein, sensory characterization and applications development with industry partners,” says Ranjan Patnaik, MycoTechnology’s chief technology officer. “This progress is a reflection of Myco’s unique ability to integrate discovery with commercial development to quickly create innovative, impactful solutions from nature.”