LEXINGTON, Mass., Jan 06, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Microbia, Inc., an emerging leader in the production of sustainable specialty ingredients and biomaterials, today announced that it has achieved an important milestone in creating its line of naturally derived carotenoids for the food ingredient and nutritional supplement markets. Utilizing its proprietary metabolic engineering capabilities, the Company has developed microbial strains that produce commercially significant levels of lycopene via fermentation -- well in excess of five grams per liter. The bright red carotenoid is useful as an antioxidant and traditionally supplied from tomatoes. This achievement clears the way for the initiation of safety studies, and first lycopene sales could occur as early as 2010.
Over the course of the last ten months, Microbia initiated its lycopene program and subsequently demonstrated the ability to produce this carotenoid at high levels in a large scale manufacturing plant.
"The results of these studies and the rapid timeline in which they were completed confirm the remarkable potential of our novel bio-manufacturing methods to produce carotenoids, compounds that currently represent a commercial opportunity in excess of $1 billion dollars," said Marcus Lovell Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Microbia. "We are already at a substantial cost advantage over many traditional manufacturing processes, and we will continue to aggressively pursue even higher yields and production rates. Moreover, there are over 600 carotenoids found in nature, and we are confident that our technology can be tuned to make any number of them cost effectively."
With today's announcement, Microbia has demonstrated its ability to produce multiple carotenoids at a cost competitive industrial scale. The Company is now focused on commercially launching these products.
The carotenoids are part of the Company's larger effort to develop a unique production platform for lipophilic or "fat-loving" compounds. Microbia researchers have established the feasibility of this platform for producing a wide variety of ingredients, spanning the food, feed and commodity chemical sectors.
ABOUT MICROBIA (WWW.MICROBIA.COM)
Microbia, Inc. (formerly Microbia Precision Engineering), is an industrial biotechnology company that develops high-value, renewable specialty ingredients and biomaterials by applying its proprietary metabolic engineering to fermentation-based manufacturing. Carotenoids are the first products launched from Microbia's diverse pipeline of natural specialty ingredients, biopolymers, biofuels and other biomaterials. Microbia, Inc., based in Lexington, Massachusetts, was established in 2006 as an operationally independent subsidiary of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc.