The current needs of mankind for milk are estimated at 840 million tons per year, with most of it going to the preparation of dairy products - cheeses, yoghurts, butter, as well as dyes and fertilizers. However, the new trend away from animal products in favor of plant-based analogues means that real cow's milk will be less and less in demand. So why not replace it with an alternative - like yeast?
An Israeli startup Imagindairy, founded by Tel Aviv University professor Tamir Tuller, is developing yeast for the production of milk proteins. His associates and competitors in this field are the Americans from the Californian company Perfect Day Inc., only they use mushrooms as a source of biomass. We are not talking about GMO products, but about the results of bioengineering, when a living species is taught to create proteins unusual for it - in this case, identical to milk proteins.
The development of both startups is based on well-known gene expression technology. The main challenge is to ensure translation of the genetic code from the "language" of bovine cells into the "language" of yeast cells. The problem is solvable, but the process itself is laborious, so the researchers have so far received only prototypes. At the current stage, the cost of such artificial milk is too high, and its quality is not enough.
The task for the future is formed as follows: to obtain milk proteins, from which it is possible to make dairy products that are identical in all properties to analogs from natural milk. It is impractical to make milk itself, both in view of a decrease in demand for it, and because it is very difficult to achieve a match of taste and smell. In addition, the new product will initially be free of lactose, cholesterol and somatic cells, which will make it healthier than regular milk.