Allylix releases first product developed from UK technology

Editor's note: Allylix is an industrial biotech company that has its R&D lab at the UK Coldstream Research Campus. Allylix uses proprietary yeast-based fermentation technology developed by the UK College of Agriculture and the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences to produce a group of natural products called terpenes in greater quantities, of higher quality, and at significantly lower cost than traditional sources. With significant commercial value to a variety of industries, Allylix has plans for seven more products in the next two years. Last spring, the company raised $9 million in Series C venture capital from seven investor groups across the country including the Bluegrass Angels in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky Technology Inc., UK's for-profit corporation, was an early investor in Allylix through the Bluegrass Angel Venture Fund along with several individual Bluegrass Angels members.


Kerry A. Dolan, posted Oct. 21, 2010
Forbes Magazine dated Nov. 8, 2010


In a Lexington, Ky. research lab 16 biologists and chemists are producing aromas and flavors that thus far only nature has been able to make. When their first products, an orange and a grapefruit flavor and fragrance, go on sale in December it could revolutionize a $21 billion industry.


The scientists work for tiny San Diego-based biotechnology company Allylix. They have spent five years engineering baker's yeast to produce a variety of smells and flavors. Feed sugar to the altered yeast, ferment it in a 6,000-gallon tank for five days and you have your citrus essence.


Currently flavor and fragrance companies must extract the oil from peels to get those tastes and smells, used in beverages and expensive perfumes. But because supply of these fruits is limited and the quantity of desired molecules in the oils is low, the price for the grapefruit product, called nootkatone, is a steep $2,000 a pound. The orange product, valencene, sells for $600 a pound or more.


"Long term we're looking at producing these for a fifth or a tenth of the cost. We see opening up new markets in personal care and household cleaning," says Allylix Chief Executive Carolyn Fritz. Allylix has developed six other flavors and fragrances (Fritz won't say what they are yet) and aims to create new markets for those, too.

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