Spanish startup, Nucaps Nanotechnology, have achieved effective encapsulation of active ingredients with food proteins at a fraction of the cost of current technologies. We chatted with CEO Mariano Oto to learn more about this technology and how it could benefit F&B manufacturers.
Can you pitch your innovation to us in three sentences?
"Nucaps is the first company in the world to achieve effective encapsulation of active ingredients and microorganisms with food proteins. Our technology allows oral administration and controlled release that is clean, safe and efficient, increasing bioavailability up to 35 times compared to free form administration. Therefore, ingredients with Nucaps’s technology can be 70% cheaper than the current ones."
What sparked the initial idea behind Nucaps Nanotechnology?
"Producers of functional foods and nutraceuticals face difficulties in manufacturing new products (poor oral bioavailability, lack of stability, degradation, etc.). Some bioactives with healthy properties cannot be used in an efficient and affordable way in oral administration. Products with nutritional and/or healthy properties that present a very low oral bioavailability are, by conventional formulation techniques, very inefficient because they are not absorbed from the gut. Included in this group are a number of bioactive phytochemicals (e.g., flavonoids, anthocyanins and carotenoids). We worked on the development of new nano- and microparticles for the incorporation of dietary compounds to food."
Your encapsulation process allows a controlled release of bioactives and microorganisms. How does this differ from other delivery methods on the market?
"Nanocapsules work as carriers offering security protection for the loaded active, facilitating their arrival to the intestinal epithelium of the compound of interest that is released in a controlled way facilitating its absorption and promoting its oral bioavailability.""Nucaps’ nanoparticles are based on the use of food proteins that are degraded during the normal digestion process (they have GRAS status and can be considered clean label). The procedures for the production of nanoparticles only involve environmentally acceptable compounds. The capability of the technology/strategy to be implemented (i.e., toxicity concerns, lack of efficacy ….) also differs from other delivery methods. Finally, our process has greater efficiency, versatility to be employed with a number of dietary factors and lower costs compared with other technologies."
How does your product meet European regulations? Are there any potential hurdles here?
"The size of our particles has been carefully adjusted in order to avoid the nanomaterial label as defined by the Recommendation of the European Commission on a definition of nanomaterial as published on 18 October 2011."
How do you plan to develop this technology in future?
We are working on the development of new nanocapsules for different compounds such as Resveratrol, Curcumin, Omega-3 or Quercetin, other substances like insulin and microorganisms as bacteria and yeasts. Also, the co-encapsulation, and surface decoration of Nucaps patented particles and new materials for the encapsulation of bioactive compounds are being investigated."
As a startup, what has been the biggest challenge in entering this market?
"The main challenges were to offer robust procedures for industrial manufacturing of nanoparticles and to be perceived by companies as a provider of solutions for their formulation problems."