Aanika Biosciences Hits a Critical Milestone in Creating an Anti-Microbial Taggant
September 3 2021
Aanika Biosciences announced today that they have completed a critical first step in developing secondary functionality for their flagship product, an edible tagging system for produce that can be used to trace food contamination events back to the source. The new functionality will add a naturally-derived antimicrobial power to Aanika’s tags. “The idea is to not only help trace the contamination, but also help prevent it in the first place by killing the bad bugs like E. coli O157" said Aanika’s CEO Vishaal Bhuyan. “This could revolutionize food safety” he added.
Using high-throughput screening techniques, thousands of versions of an antimicrobial peptide (AMP) were tested to find the molecules with the greatest ability to kill the harmful bacteria that cause outbreaks of foodborne illness. AMPs are gaining popularity as antibacterial agents, particularly as microbes are becoming more resistant to antibiotics and AMPs represent an entirely different mode of control.
“Using a tiered system of pooled combinations of peptides was the key.” said Aanika’s Chief Science officer Dr. Ellen Jorgensen. “We were able to pinpoint the exact regions important for function very rapidly and with a high degree of confidence to improve our AMP’s ability to kill E. coli. By combining the novel AMP with our tagging system we address the full spectrum of needs to combat foodborne illness”.
Aanika’s current focus is safeguarding leafy greens, but both the tagging system and novel AMPs have broader uses in supply chain security. “The use of AMPs to protect food is a promising new area and I applaud Aanika’s efforts in this field.” said Dr. Christopher Voigt, an Aanika Biosciences advisory board member and co-director of the Synthetic Biology Center at MIT. Dr. Jorgensen agrees with that assessment. “Several AMPs are approved for biomedical use, but we look forward to pioneering their wider use in foods” she said, adding that Aanika plans to aggressively pursue other improvements and additions to their base technology going forward.
About Aanika Biosciences
Aanika Biosciences is a Brooklyn based synthetic biology start-up whose mission is to increase transparency and security in food and agricultural supply chains. Their low-cost traceability system of edible microscopic ‘watermarks’ bridges the gap between product and packaging, ensuring the integrity of products throughout the journey from source to consumer.