FreezeM launches enhanced genetic line of Black Soldier Flies

FreezeM, which specialized in insects’ biology and genetics, has launched BSF-Titan®, a first-of-its kind enhanced genetic line of Black Soldier Flies to transform the insect farming industry.

FreezeM launches enhanced genetic line of Black Soldier FliesFreezeM, an Agri-tech company from Israel, announced that it has developed a new, enhanced genetic line of Black Soldier Flies (BSF) entitled BSF-Titan®.  Set to be commercialized in BSF protein production facilities globally, this new line can reach a 50% bigger larvae size. According to the company statement, BSF-Titan will drastically reduce industry costs, substantially improve feed conversion rates, and provide a sustainable, efficient, and accessible way to increase protein production capacity for livestock.

This pioneering product, marking the first time that a CRISPR-Cas9 edited line has been introduced to the market, adds a new layer to FreezeM’s existing cutting-edge BSF breeding and biological solutions. Importantly, for a market such as Europe – where GMO is still under discussion, this edited line can also be produced via traditional methods in accordance with the current European regulatory landscape.

While BSF is the ultimate recycling machines made by nature, they require adaptation and optimization for large-scale production. Feeding the larvae relies on organic waste streams, a precious resource that can cost up to €40 per ton in some parts of Europe.

As it stands, if a typical insect protein factory needs 15 tons of waste-based feedstuff to produce one ton of insect meal, it will pay up to €600 for the feed itself. Using FreezeM’s enhanced BSF-Titan line, the cost of the feed can be reduced to €450, and the increased larvae size will further reduce the production costs by shortening the cycle time and by reaching a higher protein yield. This unique technology will also see an improved feed conversion rate of 25% compared to the wild type strain – the current option available and widely used by BSF producers, including FreezeM.

The new technology was developed by FreezeM’s genetics team, who has created a highly powerful platform for precise genome editing in BSF over the last two years, using CRISPR-Cas9 as an exploratory R&D sandbox to identify the phenotype of potential new strains. The team has successfully edited over 400 gene targets since the platform was established in the lab and has made it possible to create multiple enhanced strains of BSF for various applications, first discovered via CRISPR-Cas9 but also achievable via traditional pathways once the new strains’ phenotype has been laid out.

The establishment of the advanced technological infrastructure was supported by the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) as part of the CRISPR-IL consortium. Alongside FreezeM, this group consists of leading Israeli universities such as the Technion and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

FreezeM has submitted a patent application for the new line and is planning to perform validation experiments in industrial settings with partners during 2023 prior to commercialization.

The new product comes just within months of the launch of PauseM® – FreezeM’s suspended animation technology for the BSF’s wild type strain found in nature that enables the complete decoupling of breeding (reproduction) from rearing (insect farming) and processing. This is positioning FreezeM as the “seed company” of the insect farming industry. The company, which is currently ahead of its very ambitious roadmap, also recently raised €6.3M in European Innovation Council (EIC) funding to support its work in this field.

Dr. Idan Alyagor, FreezeM CTO and co-founder, said “Insects, and in particular BSF, contain up to 50% of high-quality protein. In order to fulfil the potential of insect protein and enable the industry to scale, there is a need to reduce the price of the insect meal to a level that supports its incorporation in animal feed and improve feed conversion rates. This is the issue that our new technology solves head on, and we are thrilled to be able to develop novel genetic lines with enhanced capabilities that will remove barriers in the industry and provide solutions to a wider range of applications.”