Can you tell me about the work you do and how you got started?
I majored in general chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry for my graduate program at SDSU. After college, I did research on Viral analogues, binding them to different proteins and peptides to improve their PK at a Pharmaceutical company in California. I later formed a biotech company, Virun, in order to pursue antiviral technologies to improve the oral bioavailability of naïve proteins, peptides and drugs. Hence the name, Virun, an acronym for Virus-Immune. Through this venture, we filed dozens of patent applications binding Transferrins to drug agents. This was dubbed DPtechnology® (direct precision technology) and is used in our current Probiferrin™ (Probiotic delivery and preservation system) and protein technologies. We then performed many clinical and pre-clinical studies, showing greater than 61% oral Bioavailability of Human insulin compared to i.v. injection. This ignited our company’s growth and we licensed many drug delivery technologies to the top Pharmaceutical companies. In 2008, there became a need to develop technologies for nano-encapsulation and solutions for foods, beverages and supplements. At this same time, fats, such as Omega 3, MCT and other non-polar compounds, such as CoQ10, Astaxanthin etc., became vital supplements with many health attributes. However, these compounds and fats were very difficult to make into finished products. We applied our extensive patent portfolio and further developed a new patent portfolio toward great tasting, efficacious products that improve the health of individuals looking improve their lifestyle and longevity. We invested in full scale finished product manufacturing and are now responsible for many of the natural, organic, non-GMO, finished Omega 3, MCT and other great tasting fat-healthy products you see in Wholefoods, private grocery chains, Amazon and elsewhere.
What made you and your company want to speak at SXSW?
Several premiere manufactures of plant-based health ingredients that had inquired to speak at SXSW were chosen. There was a need to present finished product manufacturing and have representation from a company with experience of taking these ingredients and further applying them to commercialized, finished products that are stable. Virun is a renowned research and manufacturing facility with over 80 patents and patents pending world-wide making Virun a good choice to fulfill this demographic. We were asked by the conference and the ingredient manufactures to help lend our experience and understanding toward plant-based algae ingredients, such as DHA Omega 3, as well as other non-polar ingredients, such as Carotenoids; in particular, shedding light on the design of these ingredients as they are to be consumed by the consumer.
What inspired you to come up with the idea of your panel?
Plant-based ingredients are growing and the demand is not only due to vegan interest, but an issue of sustainability. DHA Omega 3 is the largest growing health-ingredient in our industry that has the claims toward heart health, brain and cognitive health and joint health combined. The fact that fish is our primary source of Omega 3 EPA DHA lends the question, for how long? Algae is an amazing plant and organism being it can be engineered or fermented, naturally, to produce many phytochemicals, carotenoids, vitamins and other health-ingredients in a manner that does not put a strain on our ecosystem. The biotech company Algarithm, who is speaking alongside myself and Virun, processes a DHA Omega 3 from the organism, schizochytrium, then ship to our facility. We further downstream process this plant-based DHA and encapsulate into amazing, great tasting products, such as our Breakfast Multi-serving smoothies, or DHA Omega 3 bars. We even process into stick-pack pouches. Another company speaking alongside myself, Virun and Algarithm is Kemin. Kemin produces natural antioxidants and unique formulations derived from plants, such as Tocopherol, EGCG from Green Tea etc. These solutions Kemins offers significantly improve the shelf life of many products, liquids, meats etc. Plant-based ingredients and stabilizing or formulating these into finished products are a science that is growing significantly and solutions are in high demand. We are here to share our experiences with you and SXSW. What better venue to display our high tech, advanced and game-changing technologies then at SXSW, the hub of food technology in Austin, Texas.
What is the focus of your panel?
Our focus is to lend insight into health ingredients that come from plants. Not just about sustainability, but also perspective on new ways of manufacturing healthy ingredients, stabilizing volatile plant ingredients, such as algal DHA Omega 3, and manufacturing these unique ingredients into finished products that provide health benefits, yet, taste amazing. We will be sampling our O3 Smoothies at SXSW, that have great tasting DHA Omega 3 with MCT (derived from Coconuts), both healthy fats. We will be premiering or four new flavors: S’mores, Root Beer Float, Breakfast, and Breakfast with Bacon to emphasize what-is-possible. These are experiences that are next-generational. Long gone are the mixed berry, orange and grape flavor that is as common as a steering-wheel is to a car. We are here to replace bad fat with good fat and give you ice cream and chocolate cake with fortified DHA Omega 3.
What makes your panel stand out from other panels?
A lot of the plant based ingredients, research, and product-examples our panel will be discussing are based on healthy ingredients that are beyond what we see typically, e.g.: Vitamin C, B Vitamins and Potassium. We are discussing healthy ingredients that are legitimately new, even prescribed by medical doctors, yet, difficult to process into foods, beverages and supplements. DHA Omega 3 for brain health, Astaxanthin and CoQ10 for heart health, MCT for ketogenic transitioning or CLA fat to produce lean muscle mass. These are fats and water-insoluble, plant-based ingredients. These ingredients are not widely seen in foods, beverages and supplements because of how difficult they are to process. Our panel stands out because we combine credibility, experience, IP, patents with efficacy, and results.
What do you want audience members to take away from your panel?
I want our audience to walk away knowing that you can combine great flavor-experiences with healthy supplementation and change our lifestyles for the better. I want those interested in doing research in our industry to know that there are companies out there that truly are thinking-out-of-the-box. I want our audience to leave our panel wanting to make a difference in our industry, bring accountability to the lesser-of the efficacious products currently sold as dietary supplements. Too many large-brand manufactures sell supplement products that are not what they are advertised to be, this needs to stop and our panel will provide discussion to positively proliferate revolution toward food technology evolution.
Monday, March 12
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
JW Marriott – Salon C
Find out more: Algae, Not Animals: The Plant-Based Revolution
Featured image: Virun