November 2, 2021
By Bill Liao
Magellan Life Sciences provides sweet leverage to SOSV IndieBio

I am both a supertaster and a type 2 diabetic, so I do hate bitter foods and I sure do miss sugar. In fact, as a card-carrying sweet tooth, I have wished for such a sweetener many times in my life. Sadly, the only way to keep my blood sugar in check is to pass on all foods containing the “s” word.

For millennia, the children on the forested edges of the Savannas in the Congo River Basin have feasted on a clever fruit. This fruit is unlike any other in that its sweetness does not come from sugar — it has a trick up its sleeve. Instead of using its meagre resources to make a high-calorie sugar to attract young primates (who also enjoy the fruit), this fruit produces a protein that is many times sweeter than sugar, yet contains no net calories.

So, without adding a bunch of calories, this clever plant distributes its seeds via enthusiastic consumption of its delicious fruits. If you need a lot of calories this is not great news, but in the modern world, the zero-net-calorie profile of this fruit is quite possibly a godsend. Unfortunately, unlike the seemingly ubiquitous stevia plant, this intelligent plant of the Congo just does not want to grow outside its wild African home.

Enter Dr. Abhiram Dukkipati, Laxmi Wagle, and their UK-based company Magellan Life Sciences (RebelBio 05)*. During the SOSV IndieBio program (RebelBio London 2018), they showed us that not only could they make the protein using their proprietary fermentation technology, they could leverage a trick they patented to fool the cells into making the protein and also purifying it.

Once I tasted Magellan’s sweet protein made using their proprietary fermentation technology, the decision to invest in the company was a no-brainer. They’ve created a protein that tastes like the finest Demerara sugar and yet has effectively no calories. And unlike stevia, their sweetener causes no bitter or strange aftertaste. Magellan finding the answer in a sweetener that humans have already been eating for thousands of years is astounding.

Having found the answer to the age-old sweetener conundrum, Magellan raised funds to scale up their production process to industrial levels; SOSV was delighted to join the series seed investment round led by Edouard Nuttin, CEO at Roquette Ventures, a fund that specializes in food and nutrition with focus in plant based proteins. Leave it to the French to jump on something that tastes so good.

By now it should be obvious why SOSV and Roquette Ventures have invested: Magellan Life Sciences has solved a big problem for humans in a far more natural and tasty way than ever before.

Sweet!

*RebelBio is the life sciences program that preceded IndieBio.