DoubleRainbow, which is based in Cambridge, MA, released the new ingredient under the aegis of a subsidiary known as Landkind. Grant Smith, vice president of corporate strategy and chief brand officer for Landkind, sat down with NutraIngredient-USA to give a rundown of the production process for the new offering and what he sees as its potential.
Getting to the precise benefits of an adaptogen
Smith said the company focused first on Rhodiola because of the vast potential of the botanical. What was needed, he said, was a more focused concept of both of the botanical’s message and its health effects.
Commonly referred to as a adaptogen, rhodiola has historically been mentioned in connection with stress management and mood support. An issue with the adaptogenic positioning early on was that marketers seemed to be promoting this and other adaptogenic ingredients for a whole host of issues. Good for what ails ya, in other words. It was a way of formulating that message that was rife with abuse and misunderstanding and the potential for both overpromising and underdelivering.
With LK-01, however, Smith said Landkind can hone that message as it pertains to the effects of a 99.5% pure biosynthetic ingredient. The salidroside molecule that is the target of the development effort is present at only about 1% by weight in the parent plant, Smith said.
“At its core Rhodiola is an adaptogen. But it’s the salidroside that is helping at the cellular level, where it is improving metabolic function and improving ATP production,” he said.
Computational platforms provide basis for development effort
Smith said the company uses a development platform it has dubbed as HARMONY to “decode the biosynthesis pathways of valuable natural compounds to identify and bioengineer these valuable molecules and deliver their full therapeutic potential to patients.”
Then, using another computational approached branded as PRISM, the company’s scientists can decode which microorganism genes need to be altered and in what way to engineer ‘cell factories’ to produced the desired molecules.
“We're leveraging precision glycosylation to bioengineer functional sugar motifs that improve the specificity and efficacy of a range of therapeutics through our GDC technology. Our proprietary technology allows us to maximize the potential of sugar motifs through unprecedented selectivity and control,” Smith said.
“We are able to rapidly screen potential drug candidates against our proprietary enzyme library, to identify the best enzyme and best glycan for bioconjugation. We then use our expanding knowledge base of functional sugar motifs and their diverse utilities to optimize their structure for the desired therapeutic effect,” he added.
For LK-01, those effects include metabolism, athletic performance and recovery. The company is in the recruitment phase for a human clinical trial which Smith said should be complete later this year.
Smith said that the biosynthesis approach can also have sustainability benefits. As rhodiola has become more popular, the supplies of the source botanical have come under pressure.
“This eliminates the threat to the Rhodiola supply chain. It’s moving more into an endangered status, and this is in any case a hard to get to molecule. You’d have to harvest a ton of Rhodiola to get any significant quantities,” he said.
“That is why we are leveraging the HARMONY platform to learn from nature’s blueprint and precision-engineer pure, nature-identical compounds that promote human health and vitality without taxing nature,” he added.
Smith said Landkind is just getting started, with a pipeline full of potential development targets.
“To date, we have successfully bioengineered more than a dozen natural products across multiple classes of molecules. We are currently evaluating their potential as future Landkind products and making plans for potential industrial scale production,” he said.