We are group of Ph.D. scientists who are committed to finding new molecules from nature that can benefit human health and well-being.
With your help, we’re going to make Yovivo! Yogurt: a protein- and calcium-rich probiotic yogurt with resveratrol, the molecule that links red wine to health benefits such as lowering “bad” cholesterol, moderating blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, and improving circulation.Your support for Yovivo! will help us develop our probiotic yogurt to provide medically beneficial compounds to improve access to better health for everyone!
The science is straightforward!
We are developing a system to bioengineer yogurt probiotics to efficiently produce medical compounds.
Lactobacillus is a yogurt probiotic that has been used in traditional yogurt production for thousands of years. Antioxidants, antibiotics, and other health-enhancing compounds are produced by genes. We will modify the yogurt probiotic to express the natural grape genes responsible for the production of resveratrol in red wine.
What does that mean?
Put simply, we use a technique called molecular cloning to cut genes from plants and other natural sources, and paste the gene into the DNA of yogurt probiotics.
For this project, we have identified and cut out the gene that is responsible for making resveratrol in the DNA of red grapes. Next, we paste the red grape resveratrol gene into the DNA of the yogurt probiotic. Finally, we allow the probiotic to multiply and naturally produce the red grape resveratrol as though it were always there!
And the best part? The probiotics in yogurt can be modified to produce almost any compound we choose!
We are excited about the long-term implications that our project has for enabling the low-cost production and distribution of antioxidants, antibiotics, and other medicinal compounds.
With Yovivo! probiotics designed to make essential therapeutic compounds, we can help underprivileged and developing communities that lack access to basic healthcare turn milk into medicine. Yogurt and has been made by people of different cultures for thousands of years, so the tools and skills to make yogurt from Yovivo! probiotics are already out there!
Our goal is to develop a scalable, cost-friendly system which could have enormous positive impacts
In the U.S. by reducing the need for individuals and families pay for over-priced drugs from pharmaceutical companies
Worldwide by enabling the low-cost production and distribution of compounds that, today, are primarily accessible only to a small number of developed countries.
Your support will allow us to develop the tools and infrastructure to make resveratrol and all other types of healthy supplements in an edible, inexpensive package.
Yogurt is full of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Proteins are used to build and repair body tissues, and are the building blocks of muscles, bone, and essential body chemicals. Calcium-rich foods help strengthen bones and teeth, and help prevent osteoporosis. Yogurt consumption is also associated with better diet and metabolic profiles in men and women.
The probiotics (friendly bacteria) naturally found in yogurt have been shown to:
Promote healthy immune system function
Promote healthy digestive system function (including reducing lactose intolerance)
Reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension
Lower cholesterol levels
Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant produced by red grapes and other plants, and has been linked in human trials to such health-promoting benefits as:
Moderating blood sugar levels in diabetes patients
Reducing inflammation in smokers
Improving circulation in overweight adults
- Reducing “bad”cholesterol levels
Resveratrol was identified as the antioxidant that may be responsible for the health-promoting benefits of red wine. While many wine drinkers rejoiced at the news, research has shown that you’d need to drink about 10 glasses of wine to consume enough resveratrol to get many of the most exciting potential health benefits.One serving of Yovivo! Resveratrol Yogurt will contain as much resveratrol as 10 glasses of wine, with one-tenth the calories! If you want the potential advantages of resveratrol and still be able to operate heavy machinery safely, resveratrol yogurt is a good way to do it!
You may be wondering, “Why don’t I just buy my yogurt and resveratrol pills separately?”
Typical synthetic resveratrol pills contain resveratrol particles the size of corn flour. While that sounds small, even smaller resveratrol particles—microscopic in size—were found to be absorbed almost four times better than the resveratrol found in the typical supplement. Better absorption means your body can more readily use the resveratrol.
So, why Yovivo! Resveratrol Yogurt?Because the resveratrol produced in Yovivo! Yogurt will be about 50 times smaller and four times more absorbable than common resveratrol pills… all in a delicious yogurt.
Why do we need your financial support?
We decided to raise at least $25,000 because it represents the smallest amount of funding that we need to continue to develop modified Yovivo! probiotics, and ensure that our system for producing resveratrol & natural medicinal compounds works as planned.
Your donation will help pay for the essential lab supplies, utilities, and equipment needed to operate in our biotechnology lab. That stuff ain’t cheap! Your contribution will also help us pay for the experienced hands that make the magic happen in the lab.
In addition, 5% of your financial support will go to our partners at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.
Finally, your contribution will help us perform the safety and quality assurance tests to ensure that Yovivo! Yogurt is as safe and delicious as any yogurt in the market today!
Spread the word! We are excited about the potential impact that this platform can have on a variety of global problems and we hope that you share our enthusiasm.
These are some of the tokens of our appreciation for your support while we further develop our product. P.S. Lab coats double as fantastic cooking accessories!
Wait a minute. Are you talking about a genetically modified organism (GMO)?
Yes, we are modifying Lactobacillus bulgaricus using standard methods. We will make and use only “food-grade” cultures and materials, like those already being used in the yogurt industry and other food industries. That means we will only add DNA from sources that have already been approved and are safe to eat, like red grapes. This should greatly reduce or eliminate allergy risks (unless you’re allergic to grapes!). We will not add any DNA from non-food grade sources into Yovivo!. Relatedly, we will not be using any DNA that will confer antibiotic resistance to Lactobacillus, a common method for engineering microorganisms. Instead, we will be using “food grade” auxotrophic selective markers that ensure that our desired modifications are made to the microoganism. The modified Lactobacillus will be just like normal yogurt cultures, except they will produce proteins that convert natural amino acids into resveratrol.
I'm wary about eating a GMO. Will eating Yovivo! be safe?
Until rules and regulation provide a path for safely distributing a commercial food product with live engineered microorganisms, we will pasteurize any yogurt containing engineered microorganisms. We will then mix resveratrol-containing yogurt with separately fermented yogurt containing live cultures. This way, you get the benefits of Yovivo! resveratrol and from live probiotics.
For safety, we are also focusing on using only “food-grade” DNA from plants like the red grape vine. Yovivo! yogurt should be no more allergenic than yogurt or grapes. However, we will submit our yogurt to all the testing that is required of any food product today as required by the FDA, to check for toxicity, nutritional composition, and allergenicity.
As the rules, regulations, and demand around foods containing living engineered microorganisms, we will adapt our process accordingly to meet that demand while continuing to safely give you the most health benefits possible.
Safety is of utmost importance. Our work is staged to make sure that, every step of the way, we will actively engage the proper regulatory bodies, consumer advocacy groups, nutritional and medical experts, and public policy makers. We want to address all safety concerns and make Yovivo! yogurt as safe as yogurt you buy in the store today.
What are you going to be doing, in more detail?
For Stage I work, we are going to take 4 genes from the red grape vine that convert amino acids into trans-resveratrol (see figure below). We will then express them in our platform bacterial strain, Lactobacillus bulgaricus. We are focusing on meeting the “food grade” criteria, meaning that we will use DNA only from food-grade sources.
How do you know this is going to work?
Resveratrol biosynthetic pathways have been reconstituted in other microbes, such as E. coli (human gut bacteria) and S. cerevisiae (baker's yeast). The pathway is relatively simple. In addition to transplanting the genes from red grape vine, there are a number of other genes we can try from other food-grade organisms that we can copy and use in our yogurt probiotic bacteria.
So what's the deal with pasteurization? I want living Yovivo! probiotic cultures...
We want to do this right! We can't emphasize this enough. We want to safely and responsibly distribute Yovivo! resveratrol yogurt as a food product. Therefore, until there is an agreed-upon framework for safe distribution of live resveratrol-producing yogurt, our default is to pasteurize the product.
Jennifer Shock, Ph.D. has more than 12 years of experience from academic and industrial settings where she gained expertise in molecular biology, genetics, metabolic engineering, microbial pathogenesis and synthetic biology. She earned her undergraduate degree from University of North Caroline, Chapel Hill in biology and her Ph.D. from UCSF in Biochemistry. Following her doctoral studies, Jenny was Director at the Center for Advanced Technology at UCSF before leading an industrial biofuel development team.
Teresa Shock, Ph.D. has more than 12 years of experience from academic and industrial settings where she focused on synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, microbial genetics, and molecular biology. She earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from New Mexico State University and pursued her Ph.D. at UCSF where she studied signaling specificity. She later pursued her post doctoral research at Berkeley before leading an industrial biofuel development team.
Richard Yu, Ph.D. has more than 20 years of academic and industrial experience and draws from a background in biophysics, structural biology, enzymology, synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, systems biology and cell biology. He earned his undergraduate degree in Molecular Cell biology and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, later earning his Ph.D. at Yale University in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Rich has led multiple research projects in academic and industrial settings, including engineering renewable biofuel and nutraceutical production in microalgae. He is also an investigator at the Molecular Sciences Institute.
Kimberly Wemmer, Ph.D. has more than 16 years of academic and industrial experience and gained expertise in microbial genetics, molecular biology, synthetic biology and cell-biology. She earned her undergraduate degree from UC San Diego in Molecular Biology and pursued her doctoral studies at UCSF in Cellular and Molecular Biology where she studied Chlamydomonas biology and genetics. She later gained a diverse range of industrial experience at leading synthetic biology companies and has led multiple projects.
Jeffrey Kim, Ph.D. has more than 15 years of academic and industrial experience at the interface of natural product biosynthesis, chemical biology, synthetic biology, computational chemistry, and biophysics. He studied molecular biology at Princeton University and later earned his Ph.D.in natural product biosynthesis at Rockefeller University. Dr. Kim went on to become project lead of a large-scale industrial biofuel program where he oversaw enzyme engineering, fermentation, analytical chemistry, and biology. Jeff and Oliver co-founded Radiant Genomics in 2012 to focus on the discovery, application, and production of therapeutic small molecules.
Oliver Liu, Ph.D. has more than 17 years of academic and industrial experience at the interface of synthetic biology, natural product chemistry, microbial genetics, microbiology, and neuroscience. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in Biochemical Sciences and his Ph.D. at UCSF where he studied fungal pathogenesis and developed novel microbial engineering tools. Oliver pursued his post doctoral research at Stanford before joining Jeff as biology lead on the same industrial biofuel development program. Oliver and Jeff co-founded Radiant Genomics in 2012 to focus on the discovery, application, and production of therapeutic small molecules.
Grace Szu, Ph.D. has more than 16 years of academic and industrial experience and has experience with analytical chemistry, enzymology and natural product biosynthesis. She earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the National Chung Cheng University in Cia-Yi, Taiwan, later pursuing her doctoral studies at UT Austin where she earned her Ph.D. Grace pursued her postdoctoral studies at Stanford University where she studied natural product biosynthesis.
Raymond McCauley, Biocurious; Singularity U
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