NutraCast: Why Ayana Bio CEO Frank Jaksch is betting on synbio

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

NutraCast: Why Ayana Bio CEO Frank Jaksch is betting on synbio

Related tags synthetic biology synbio nutracast Unmetered Chromadex

Synthetic biology technologies make it possible to create just about anything sustainably – including plants and fungal bioactives. Synbio has become a disruptive force that a growing number of companies are leaning into, including plant cell tech startup and Ginkgo Bioworks spinoff Ayana Bio. At the helm of the company is Frank Jaksch, who previously spent over two decades leading publicly-traded ingredient company ChromaDex.

“Ayana Bio’s plant cell cultivation technology is designed to sort of revolutionize how the industry can source the beneficial plant bioactives and make these ingredients more accessible,​” said CEO Jaksch.

Although Ayana is synbio, Jaksch said the approach is different from the other synbio companies.

“Most synbio companies are sort of taking the approach of finding one particular bioactive and engineering an organism to create that specific plant bioactive. Ayana’s approach is really more focused on plant cells. So essentially what we're able to do is recreate the plant to grow as individual cells, meaning we're maintaining the cellular structure basically, as if it were grown in the ground as a plant. So plants and botanicals by design already have the inherent sort of chemistry inside to basically produce. Not just one chemical but all of the classes of bioactives are phytochemicals that are found in those plants. So this is a better way of potentially making the entire makeup of the chemistry of the plant rather than focusing on one specific bioactive,”​ explained Jaksch.

Jaksch added that Ayana Bio will continue to produce these plant cells and sell them as ingredients. Some of these ingredients include cacao, ginseng, berries and saffron, to name a few. 

To hear more about these ingredients, and what Jaksch has to say about sustainability, purity and ethical concerns, listen to the NutraCast.

You can also subscribe on iTunes​, Spotify​, Stitcher​ and wherever you get your podcasts.

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