Israeli biotech startup Ukko secures US$40m to develop food allergy solutions

ISRAEL – Israeli-based Biotech company Ukko has raised US$40 million in Series B funding to help accelerate the development of healthier food and therapies for food allergies.

The round was led by Leaps by Bayer – the investment arm of Bayer – and was joined by Continental Grain Company and PeakBridge Ventures.

Skyviews Life Science and Fall Line Capital, as well as existing investors Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and Time Ventures also participated in the round.

The Israel-based company aims to eliminate the world’s most prevalent food allergies and sensitivities including peanuts and gluten.

It uses a proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) platform that engineers food proteins to eliminate their allergenicity, while keeping their good biochemical and nutritional characteristics.

Through its platform, the company says it uses patient samples, computational biology, immunology and protein engineering to make proteins that do not trigger the immune system.

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Yanay Ofran, chairman and co-founder of Ukko, says the company uses big data to help it  understand the underpinnings of food sensitivities.

He adds that the company further employs computational tools 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,” Ofran explains.

Currently, Ukko is working on improved gluten proteins that are designed for people with celiac and other gluten sensitives, which will allow food companies and home cooks to make products such as bread, pizza and pasta that are suitable for everyone.

 In addition, the firm is using its protein design platform to develop a new and promising investigational therapy for peanut allergy.

The company says the funding will allow it to enter clinical trials with its investigational therapeutic for peanut allergy, as well as accelerate the development of Ukko’s gluten that is designed for those with celiac and other gluten sensitivity.

Anat Binur, CEO and co-founder of Ukko, added: “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 Ukko’s tech has the potential to leverage science and human data to redesign our food and medicine.”

Ukko plans to address additional major food allergens in the future.

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