Burcon incurs protein R&D expenses in fiscal 06

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Burcon, Protein, Amino acid

Based on its year end results, Burcon NutraScience Corporation is
still incurring expenses in what has been a lengthy process of
bringing its protein ingredients closer to market.

The Vancouver-based company has been aggressively pushing its two proprietary canola protein ingredients, Supertein and Puratein, for their potential to one day offer an alternative to other protein ingredients. But the expenses Burcon has been incurring do not look to ease up anytime soon. The company reported a net loss of C$3.5mn for the year ended March 31, 2007, up from C$2.9mn the previous year. To finance continued research and development, and regulatory legwork, Burcon raised net proceeds of C$4.9mn from a rights offering and C$1.3mn from the exercise of outstanding options and warrants. "Burcon's management believes that it has sufficient resources to fund its expected level of operations and working capital requirements to at least October 2009,"​ stated the company in its financial results. Burcon increased research and development expenses by about C$353,000 for the 2006 fiscal year, compared to the previous year. Much of this was devoted to providing protein samples to food manufacturers as part of its material transfer agreements (MTAs). The story behind the much anticipated proteins goes back to 1990, when BMW Canola began working on the technology. Then in 1990, Burcon acquired the process. The company in turn signed a partnership with agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in 2003 to bring the proteins to market and work on ways to make them more appealing to food manufacturers. This plan has advanced, albeit slowly, with Burcon and ADM now working directly with food manufacturers through the MTAs. These will allow companies to test for further applications for Supertein and Puratein while protecting Burcon's intellectual property interests.. "The two main areas of focus will be to continue the process of sampling Burcon's proteins with major food and beverage companies under MTAs as well as activities associated with pursuing regulatory recognition for Burcon's canola proteins in both the US and Europe,"​ stated the company. The company also expects to incur approximately US$740,000 for fees associated with getting the ingredients through regulatory hoops. In May, Burcon was issued two US patents for novel uses of Supertein as a functional component in food compositions, bringing the number of patents it holds for the ingredient up to seven. The two canola protein isolate functionality patents cover the functional uses of Supertein for both foods and a canola protein isolate fortified beverage. Burcon says its patented protein ingredients have economic value because of their potential to replace egg, dairy and other proteins in broad applications such as emulsifying, gelling, and binding. Puratein and Supertein could appeal to the vegetarian or vegan ingredient markets because they have similar characteristics to eggs but are plant-based. The high protein efficiency ratio for canola is more than double that of soy, according to Burcon. This ratio measures a growing animal's total weight gain versus the weight of protein consumed during the same period. Canola is the second-largest oilseed crop in the world after soybeans. The oilseed not only has a high level of protein purity, without prohibitive fat levels, but it also has amino acid content comparable to animal proteins and superior to that of soy proteins. "In the coming year, Burcon will continue to direct its efforts at commercializing Puratein and Supertein canola protein isolates,"​ said the company.

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