Burcon eyes market as canola patents loom

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soy protein, Burcon

Burcon NutraScience has spent ten years developing its canola protein isolates and is about to be granted three new patents, but its newer soy protein ingredient is closer to market.

Canola is already used in the food industry but Burcon is a pioneer in the development of canola protein isolates, for which the patents are imminent and which will boost their potential commercial standing.

So far the Canadian company has developed two canola-based ingredients, Puratein and Supertein, which lay claim to several textural and nutritional benefits.

Burcon hopes to market these ingredients with its partner ADM but company president and chief operating officer, Johann Tergesen, told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the road to market is a slow one.

Protein stills

Being first has its downsides in the world of innovation as awareness tends to be lower and regulatory barriers higher, making the path to market a winding one.

Tergesen said Burcon’s newer Clarisoy soy protein isolate is actually much closer to achieving commercial success than its canola protein ingredients as interest is high in the ingredient, even from the dairy sector.

In explanation, the company head said: “Soy protein is already a multi million dollar industry and acceptance is very high.”

Novel ingredients like Puratein and Supertein require more work to build awareness and convince customers and regulators of the benefits.

Patent power

Once the market opens up, monopoly is then the reward and that is where the new patents for the canola protein isolates come into play. Burcon has just received notice of allowance for three patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Two of them relate to processes for the efficient production of Puratein and Supertein and the third covers an extraction procedure for the preparation of highly refined Supertein.

Burcon said these three patents will be granted in the near future and add to three others already allowed. The company has made 70 patent applications in the US but each application takes five to six years to process.

Pure GRAS

Building intellectual property protection for the soy protein isolates is one of the key goals of the partnership with ADM. But the end goal is to get the ingredients to market.

Tergesen said the next step on that road is the achievement of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) GRAS notification. Burcon has already announced self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for Puratein and Supertein back in October 2007, but FDA GRAS notification is often demanded by potential customers.

To gain that notification, Burcon must send the FDA a dossier of safety evidence that includes material from peer-reviewed journals. Having already published one paper, and gained acceptance for another, Tergesen said Burcon is not far from submitting its dossier to the FDA.

After that point, the FDA promises to process the application in 90 days, although the process typically takes longer. Once FDA GRAS notification has been awarded, ADM will then have to decide whether or not to build a plant to manufacture Burcon’s canola protein isolates.

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