Jennewein Biotechnologie’s facility acquisition looks to expand HMO production

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Jennewein Biotechnologie is to acquire the former facilities of Arthus Mineral Spring Company, in a deal set to ramp up the company's production of oligosaccharides derived from human milk (HMO).

The German biotech firm will take ownership of the former Arthus Mineral Spring facility that includes the water rights and seven mineral springs.

Plans are currently afoot to construct a fermentation plant, a down-stream facility and a spray-drying facility on the 32000 square metre (sq.m) industrial plant creating around 200 new jobs in the area.

With the new plant, we will be able to produce additional HMOs,”​ said Benedikt Engels, chief operation officer at Jennewein Biotechnologie.

“This expands our current portfolio of two products (2′‑fucosyllactose (2-FL) and lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT)) to include five more (3′‑fucosyllactose, difucosyllactose, lacto-N-tetraose, 6′-sialyllactose and 3′-sialyllactose).”

Along with new fermentation and recovery facilities, Jennewein also plan to build separate production lines for the manufacture for each of the new HMO products.

With fermenters of more than 200m3​ each, the new plant could become one of the largest fermentation facilities in central Europe.

Jennewein’s product offerings

Jennewein’s plans tie in with current and future demand for HMOs especially since the ingredient received EU Novel Food approval for 2’-FL. In 2017, Jennewein were granted authorisation by the European Union to market 2′-fucosyllactose in the region under the Novel Food Regulation.

At a concentration 300 times higher in human milk compared to cow’s milk, 2’FL is the most abundant oligosaccharide in the group of 200 or so HMOs that have identified in human milk, consisting of 20 – 30 % of the total HMO content.

Along with LNnT, these remain the only two HMOs to be successfully commercialised with firms active in this space including BASF, FrieslandCampina DOMO, and DuPont.

“HMO’s are the result of 300 million years of evolution with the driving force coming from our bodies through glycosylation/communication needs, shaped by infectious diseases,” ​explained the company’s CEO Stefan Jennewein.

“HMOs function as decoys for cell standing oligosaccharides – approx. 80% of all pathogens use cell standing oligosaccharides as receptor or co-receptor.

“More and more infant formula are going to take on HMOs and we will also offer a more broader variety of HMOs,”​ he added as he discussed the firm’s plans to meet increasing consumer demand.

“At the moment, we are expanding our HMO portfolio significantly. However, we also see demands form other sectors than infant and toddler nutrition, such as dietary supplement and medical nutrition.”

2’-FL’s significance

BASF are one such firm looking to capitalise in this space. Commenting recently on 2’-FL’s significance to its human nutrition brand Newtrition, the firm said it was “committed to being at the scientific forefront of advancing nutrition”.

Newtrition’s portfolio, which includes essential nutrients including vitamins, carotenoids and high concentrate omega 3 fatty acids, represents “The first step in the development of Newtrition’s HMO portfolio for infant nutrition initially and also dietary supplements in the near future.”​

Jennewein, founded in 2005 and currently headquartered in the Rheinbreitbach region of Germany, are undergoing a period of expansion themselves with the prospect of its HMO activities intertwined with other aspects of the food industry.

Commenting on the construction of a new R&D Centre in Bonn, Jennewein commented on the increased interest from all food sectors, not only from infant and toddler nutrition.

“HMOs are heavily intertwined with the microbiome with HMOs functioning as substrates for beneficial microbes,” he said. “Thus the focus of the new R&D Centre will also cover our microbiome activities​.

For some diseases like the Norovirus and Rotavirus infections, 2’-FL definitely plays an outstanding role. With regard to the microbiome, probably LNT and LNnT are more important, but further research is definitely needed.”

Christian Metzmacher, Jennewein’s director of sales & marketing added that along with the R&D Centre, the new facility would “fulfil the high demand in quality and scale of our customers”.

“Our product range is attracting sensitive markets as well. As a scientific based company, sustainability, reliability and quality are part of our ‘from pioneers for pioneers’ attitude.”

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