Irish biotech company Nuritas has closed a $45 million Series B round led by Chicago-based Cleveland Avenue. The funding will be used to scale up Nuritas’ discovery platform for plant-based peptides that could be used to create healthier food and beverage products for consumers.
The round also included participation from Wheatsheaf Group, the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund, Vertex Holdings, Nutresa Ventures, Veronorte, CJ, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, and VisVires New Protein.
Nuritas says its AI and genomics-powered platform, called Nπϕ (a Hellenized initialism of ‘Nuritas Peptide Finder’), can analyze billions of peptides found in plants and natural food sources at speed, and predict how they will impact human health. With these findings, the Dublin-based startup creates supplements in powdered form that can be added to foods, beverages, and personal care products to unlock additional health benefits for consumers.
“We focus on ingredients that not only improve health, but [that] can replace things that are currently within the food system — like, for example, preservatives — with something more natural, that is safer,” Nuritas co-founder and CEO Nora Khaldi tells AFN.
Peptides are small proteins made up of short chains of amino acids. In addition to being present in plants and animals, they are the major signaling molecules inside the human body and, because of their smaller size, are easier for the body to absorb. As an ingredient in food, plant-based peptides can add health benefits that would otherwise be “lying dormant,” according to Khaldi.
“They’re the biggest set of molecules known to humankind, and what we have developed is a technology that can actually go through [and] decipher all the different peptides and different sources and identify the ones that have a specific health [benefits].”
The Series B funding will help Nuritas scale its plant-based peptides platform to launch those products globally. Capital will also go towards hires and setting up a new headquarters in the US.
Separately, the startup is looking into a business-to-consumer model for certain products and concepts. It has already launched a proof-of-concept product in the form of a supplement called Elio Restore that targets muscle health and boosts metabolism.
Last year, Nuritas and German chemical company BASF launched PeptAide 4.0, which contains peptides derived from rice proteins and can be used to treat inflammation effects. Two additional products, PeptiYouth and PeptiStrong, are derived from peas and fava beans, respectively. Both products are slated to enter the market in early 2022.
“If you look at the portfolio of ingredients people use currently, there’s a very small pool. The biggest problem is that these ingredients have been invented about 100 years ago with no consumer in mind” and have to be “retrofitted” to meet consumers’ needs, Khaldi says.
“It’s very expensive to invent an ingredient and scale it and test it. But through new technologies like AI, we can now reduce the cost and [ensure the ingredient fits] a clear consumer need and actually solves it.”