Nutri-Tech start-up debuts new line of whole-cell cultivated berry phytonutrients

Nutri-Tech start-up Novella, has unveiled prototypes of its new line of berry-derived bioactives. Charting a new course in the nutraceuticals industry, the start-up is in the advanced stages of developing intact-cell berry compounds grown outside of the plant using novel, precision-controlled-environment technology. The platform will ease some of the bottlenecks in the supply for high-demand berry ingredients within the global supplement space.

New pilot plant

Israel-based Novella has opened a new facility comprising both its operational headquarters and a state-of-the-art pilot plant to accelerate the cultivation of whole-berry fruit cells from five varieties. Each variety is designed to meet distinct supplement market demands.

Cultivation of the intact-cells in a precision-controlled environment preserves the integrity of the whole phytonutrients in the berries.

The main health benefit ascribed to berries as a general category has been their antioxidant capacity and related overall wellness attributes. But, thanks to research advances, we know much more about specific health condition categories that particular phytochemicals could help benefit, and which berries have higher concentrations of the compounds that confer these studied benefits. Novella will introduce a new supply channel for these high-value nutraceuticals.

No berry waste

“Berries cultivated solely for supplements on average require about 2,000 acres to yield just one ton of polyphenolic compounds,” explained Itay Dana, co-founder and CBDO of Novella. “We have condensed that vast tract of agriculture into a 10,000 litre bioreactor that produces the same quantity of pure, high-value ingredients. This frees up valuable land for cultivating food crops and provides a host of other economic and environmental benefits, beginning with the complete elimination of waste. Our method requires minimal land, energy, and water usage and exerts a minimal carbon footprint. We can produce high-quality ingredients at affordable prices, independently of climate fluctuations and logistical challenges.”

Novella’s proprietary cultivation platform takes a whole-cell approach to providing much sought-after nutraceutical ingredients and involves no extraction processes. The company screens the plant’s tissues to pinpoint the areas of the plant harbouring the highest concentration of compounds. The selected cells (callus) are grown in a closed, controlled system that stimulate natural propagation. Growth is maintained at a cellular level without the need of the whole plant. The cells are then transformed, without the need for solvents, into a nutritious, highly bioaccessible and potent powder that the gastrointestinal system can readily absorb.

“We perform a one-time selection procedure, taking tissue from the skin and flesh of the berries while the fruit is in it most potent stage,” explained Prof. Moshe Flaishman, Ph.D., the new CTO at Novella, who is leading the project.

Cultivation at a cellular level

While Novella nurtures cells from various botanicals, the company has made significant progress in producing cell-grown, berry-derived compounds. By keeping cultivation at a cellular level, the start-up says it can maintain the berry’s natural complex of phytonutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols, including much revered anthocyanins. Moreover, the cell wall serves as a natural form of encapsulation, protecting the actives from oxidation and ensuring maximum absorption in the body. “This means that we can also produce specific berry-derived ingredients by request,” added Prof. Flaishman.

Dana added: “Polyphenols are powerful, yet volatile molecules that can experience losses during traditional extraction processes. Our non-extraction platform bypasses these deficits. The holistic approach harnesses the power of intact berry cells, guaranteeing the delivery of standardized, wholesome, and pesticide-free bioactives.”

Novella was founded in 2022 . It is opening a new chapter in climate-resilient environments through nutrient cultivation. The company leverages proprietary technology to grow nutritious, strictly non-GMO botanical ingredients while leaving the whole plant out of the equation. The start-up can grow any type of plant tissue in its controlled environment.

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