Breastfeeding is often regarded as the purest expression of a mother’s love — as well as the most nutritious way to feed your infant. Now, Technion alumna Maya Ashkenazi Otmazgin has launched Maolac, a foodtech startup that could bring the benefits of mothers’ milk to grownups.
Otmazgin first devised a sophisticated search algorithm that analyzes nutrients found in both human and cow colostrum, the first breastmilk released after giving birth — and discovered more than 400 almost identical proteins. Another Maolac algorithm matches key proteins in human breast milk with alternative sources found in mushrooms, algae, and plants. Combining the nutrients of both the colostrum and plants, Maolac is creating supplements that can be added to foods without changing their taste, texture, or color.
Each year, more than five billion liters of bovine colostrum are routinely discarded worldwide by the cattle industry. Maolac will be the first company to upcycle the currently wasted colostrum. “We are creating something new from something that is discarded,” Otmazgin told London’s jc.com (Jewish Chronicle).
Maolac is in the process of getting regulatory approval in the U.S. and Europe and is in discussions with food and supplement companies in Israel and dairy companies around the world. The company recently raised $3.2 million seed funding to build a state-of-the-art facility for small scale production, analytics, customer samples, and clinical trials. Its first product line will consist of anti-inflammatory supplements aimed at helping athletes reduce muscle strain and improving mobility for the elderly. “Soon,” said Otmazgin, “we hope you’ll have Maolac-infused ice cream to relieve your arthritis or other inflammatory diseases.”
The idea came to Otmazgin about four years ago when she was breastfeeding her daughter. “Looking down at her, I was in awe of the fact that all her little body needed in order to grow and develop into a fully formed toddler was this one single liquid — breast milk,” reported jc.com. She realized that if she could identify the key proteins and nutrients in breast milk, she could make them accessible to adults through supplements added to everyday foods.
Otmazgin earned her master’s degree at the Technion in biomedical engineering in 2018. Teaming up with Ariel Orbach and Eli Lerner, she founded Maolac the same year and serves as CEO.
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