Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Tel Aviv U start-up produces yeast-based milk that looks and tastes like cows’ milk

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 13th, 2021

A start-up from Tel Aviv University (TAU) is developing dairy-free, eco-friendly food products that are identical in taste and color to those made from cows’ milk.

The start-up, Imagindairy, aims to address the environmental damage caused by the dairy industry, as well as the ethical dilemmas of industrial farming. To do so, it’s using yeast to produce milk that has the same taste, aroma, texture, and nutritional value of cow’s milk, only without putting the health of the cows or the environment at risk.

“In order for that to happen in an economical way, we must turn the yeast cells into efficient factories that produce milk proteins — not a simple challenge to solve,” says Tamir Tuller, professor at TAU and founder of Imagindairy.

“Even though we know what the genes that encode the proteins for cows’ milk are, those genes are written in the ‘language’ of cow cells, and need to be rewritten in the ‘language’ of yeast,” Tuller explains. “This will make the production of the milk proteins possible in an appropriate, affordable, and efficient way in the yeast cell ‘factory.’

According to Imagindairy, the yeast-based milk will actually be much healthier than that of animals, since it will not contain cholesterol, lactose or somatic cells.

The startup has been working with Ramot, the tech transfer arm of TAU, to advance the technology towards commercialization.

“I believe that we are on the right path,” Tuller says. “Within a fairly short time, we will be able to prepare in our own homes, toast with yellow cheese that was made from yeast and not from cows’ milk, without having paid any more for it.”

In the words of Ramot CEO Keren Primor Cohen, “the groundbreaking technology of Professor Tuller could revolutionize the dairy industry as we know it.”


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