Ukko is a biotech company whose mission is to eliminate food allergies and sensitivities. The company employs artificial intelligence (AI) and protein engineering to develop healthier food and therapies for food allergies.
Ukko has closed a $40 million round that will fund clinical trials for its investigational peanut allergy therapy and accelerate development of Ukko’s gluten designed for people with celiac and other gluten sensitivities.
The company’s novel approach uses a proprietary AI-powered platform that precisely engineers food proteins to eliminate their allergenicity while keeping their good biochemical and nutritional characteristics. The platform uses patient samples, computational biology, immunology, and protein engineering to make proteins that do not trigger the immune system.
Said Professor Yanay Ofran, Chairman and Co-founder of Ukko:
We are at a unique crossroads in the history of science. Big data allows us to understand the underpinnings of food sensitivities. Computational tools allow us to precisely design the proteins that make up our bodies and our food. New genome editing technologies allow us to rewrite DNA to produce these new proteins in living cells. Ukko sits at the intersection of these breakthrough technologies, allowing us to redefine healthy food at the molecular level, based on real data.
Ukko has built one of the largest clinically-validated molecular maps of food allergies, unlocking critical data that provides a rich foundation for further innovation. Ukko has also generated promising data, based on patient samples, that suggests the company’s investigational peanut and gluten proteins do not trigger allergic reactions responses in the immune system of patients.
Said Anat Binur, CEO and Co-Founder of Ukko:
We are at the forefront of a revolution. Pharma and the food industry will redefine how they think about their products and missions. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from food allergies and experts see it as a global epidemic. Ending food allergy is critical and is only the beginning. Ukko’s tech has the potential to leverage science and human data to redesign our food and medicine.
Ukko employs a holistic food-to-therapy approach to solving food allergies and sensitivities. On the food side, Ukko is working on improved gluten proteins that are especially designed for people with celiac and other gluten sensitivities, which allows bakers, food companies, and home cooks to make delicious bread, pizza, pasta, and baked goods that everyone can eat.
On the therapeutic side, Ukko is using its protein design platform to develop a new and promising investigational therapy for peanut allergy. Ukko’s future pipeline includes plans to address additional major food allergens.
Said Dr Juergen Eckhardt, head of the investment arm of Bayer and a participant in the funding:
Ukko’s investigative approaches to solving allergies and food sensitivities both from the food side and the patient therapeutics side have the possibility of delivering enormous benefits for humanity. One of the big challenges we’re addressing through our Leaps investments is attempting to reverse autoimmune diseases, which have enormous impacts on the world’s food systems and our health systems in every community around the globe. We are proud to lead this investment in Ukko and help solve the biggest allergies and food sensitivities. It is a great fit to our global leadership role in both health and nutrition.
Professor Lynda Schneider, Director of the Allergy Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, adds:
I have been a witness to my patients’ growing urgency to discover a cure for food allergies. While there are tremendous breakthroughs coming from the research and biotech worlds, safety remains a significant hurdle. Ukko’s efforts to solve these challenges for allergies and sensitivities is one of the most promising and exciting approaches I have seen.