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Partnership to Discover Mental Health Peptides in Milk

Milk splash

(Manolo Franco, Pixabay)

1 Dec. 2023. A collaboration between biotechnology and dairy products businesses seeks to identify peptides in milk to form into dietary supplements for people with mood disorders. Financial and intellectual property details of the agreement between the biotechnology enterprise Lactocore Group and food products company Ingredia Dairy Experts SA were not disclosed.

Lactocore Group is a five year-old company in Boston and Berlin discovering therapeutic peptides, short chains of amino acids, for mental health and metabolic conditions in humans, farm animals, and pets. The company says it uses computational techniques to screen and identify peptides in milk with potential as therapies, followed by further behavioral screening with Zebrafish models and preclinical development in lab cultures and animals. The Lactocore technology is based on research in physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology by the company’s founders at Moscow State University and elsewhere in Europe. In Aug. 2023, the company joined the Biolabs business accelerator in Heidelberg, Germany.

The company focuses on peptides because of their record of safety and tolerability, since they readily break down into amino acids that are easy to absorb. The lead product at Lactocore is a peptide code-named LCGA-17m16 to address anxiety and depression. The company says LCGA-17m16 limits the alpha 2 delta or a2d protein that acts on gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA receptors in the brain. GABA receptors are nervous system activity inhibitors, kept in balance with excitatory proteins in healthy individuals. Several psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression, are associated with low GABA concentrations in the brain.

Extracts functional proteins and other bioactive ingredients

In Aug. 2021, Lactocore co-founder and CEO Anton Malyshev and colleagues in Russia and the U.S. reported in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience on discovery and tests with lab mice of LCGA-17 peptide. The authors say the screening process shows LCGA-17 has a high affinity for a2d proteins and GABA receptors, and lab tests show the peptide binds with rodent brain cells comparable to leading psychiatric drugs. In further tests, lab mice induced with anxiety and depression, then given LCGA-17 peptides, are able to complete exercises indicating little anxious or depressive behavior.

The collaboration with Ingredia aims to develop food supplements enriched with therapeutic peptides to help relieve mood disorders in humans and animals. Ingredia, based in Arras in northern France, is a dairy cooperative that also extracts and markets ingredients from milk, including functional proteins and other bioactive ingredients. In their project, Lactocore and Ingredia are investigating peptides derived from cow milk after hydrolysis or chemical reactions in water. The team plans to screen the hydrolyzates with mass spectrometry, a process to identify the results at a fine level of granularity to isolate specific peptides for further development.

The project expects to begin in Jan. 2024. “Peptides have vast and diverse physiological effects in humans and animals,” says Malyshev in a Lactocore statement released through Cision. Malyshev adds, “This long-term partnership with Ingredia, an industry leader in the European segment of functional ingredients, marks a significant expansion in our research domain.” Future collaborations between the companies are expected to focus on peptides for metabolic conditions, Lactocore’s other therapeutic area.

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