AI Unlocks 33M Proteins for Industry Matchmaking

In a groundbreaking move set to revolutionize various industries, California-based startup Shiru has unveiled, a discovery platform and marketplace for proteins that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to match companies with the proteins they need. From sweeteners to emulsifiers, the platform’s vast database of over 33 million natural protein sequences is poised to transform the way businesses approach protein utilization.

Dr. Jasmin Hume, founder and CEO of Shiru, shared with AgFunderNews the potential this technology holds, especially for the food industry, which has been comparatively slow in adopting AI tools for protein discovery. Unlike other companies that create ‘designer proteins’, Shiru is tapping into the wealth of proteins that nature has already provided. This approach not only honors the diversity of natural proteins but also offers a sustainable and efficient way to explore their applications.

**AI-Powered Solutions for Industry Challenges**

Shiru’s platform is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. Companies no longer need to approach Shiru with a specific protein in mind; they can simply present a problem or requirement. For example, a company in search of a natural emulsifier that performs under acidic conditions, or a plant protein that mimics the properties of animal-derived casein, can find viable solutions through Shiru’s service.

The process begins with Shiru’s AI querying the database using proprietary machine learning methods to predict which natural proteins will meet the desired performance parameters. This often yields a handful of potential solutions, which Shiru can then produce and validate in-house, or provide the means for clients to produce themselves.

**Innovative Digital Tools for Protein Expression**

One of Shiru’s standout offerings is the ‘Expressor’ tool, which addresses a common challenge in protein production: finding proteins that can be efficiently expressed in microbial systems. Traditional methods of protein production can be costly and inefficient, especially if the desired protein is not naturally suited for microbial expression. Expressor uses advanced predictive models to estimate the expression potential of specific protein sequences, potentially saving companies time and resources by forecasting the likelihood of successful protein expression in various microbial hosts.

This tool is especially important for proteins that are found in small quantities in nature or are difficult to extract. Expressor’s validation across a broad spectrum of proteins and hosts underscores its versatility and potential to streamline the production process for a wide array of protein-based products.

**Navigating Intellectual Property**

Shiru’s approach to intellectual property (IP) is as innovative as its technology. While natural sequences cannot be patented, the applications of these sequences in new contexts can be. If Shiru identifies a protein with unique functional properties—such as a carrot protein that acts as an effective emulsifier—it can seek IP protection for the novel use of that protein. This opens up a realm of possibilities for companies to explore and commercialize natural proteins in ways that were previously unimagined.

**A Business Model for the Future**

The genesis of came from Shiru’s internal use of its AI platform to develop its own products, like structured fats and methylcellulose replacements. Recognizing the broader potential of their technology, Shiru saw the opportunity to extend their platform to other companies. The user-friendly interface of is a testament to Shiru’s vision of making its sophisticated toolbox accessible to all.

Shiru has already made strides with its first in-house ingredient, OleoPro, a structured fat that mimics animal fat without its associated health and environmental concerns. OleoPro, along with the protein it contains, uPro, is slated for commercial availability on Novi Connect, an online marketplace for sustainable ingredients.

As industries from food to cosmetics seek sustainable and efficient alternatives to traditional ingredients, Shiru’s stands out as a beacon of innovation. It not only offers a sustainable approach to ingredient sourcing but also exemplifies the transformative potential of AI in the realm of natural product discovery. With Shiru’s platform, the future of protein utilization looks both bright and boundless.

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