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Brazzein Zero-calorie Sweetener

An easy, inexpensive, and scalable method of purifying Brazzein; a natural sweet protein that tastes similar to sugar yet calorie-free

Published: 5th July 2022
Brazzein Zero-calorie Sweetener
Header image is purely illustrative. Source: Stocksnapper,,


Obesity is a serious and growing problem worldwide. 11% of men and 15% of women are obese and 39% of the total population are overweight. The cost of obesity to the global economy in 2015 is estimated at about $ 2 trillion, or 2.8% of world GDP. Several alternative sweeteners are available to reduce calories: artificial ones such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and neotame, and those from natural sources such as stevia. However, there are problems with sweeteners for consumers. They do not taste like normal sugar and often have an unpleasant aftertaste. In addition, sweeteners have been reported to be addictive and to expose e.g. cancer and type II diabetes.

Technology Overview

Brazzein is a natural sweet protein found in the fruit of the Oubli shrub (Pentadiplandra brazzeana Baillon) that has been used as a sweetener in West Africa for hundreds of years. It’s up to 2,000 times sweeter than sucrose, making it a virtually calorie-free sweetener. Unlike other sweeteners, Brazzein has a clean, sweet taste with no unpleasant side flavors. Its properties are very suitable for the food industry, as it is very heat-resistant and stable over a wide pH range. The cultivation of the Oubli plant and the isolation of Brazzein from its fruit is not economically viable on a large scale.

The university utilize patented and efficient CyDisCo technology and biofermentation to produce large quantities of Brazzein. In addition, researchers have developed a method for purifying Brazzein that is easy, inexpensive, and scalable, using only chemicals that have already been approved by the FDA as food additives. The estimated production costs using our method enable the profitable production of this natural, calorie-free, sugar-flavored sweetener for use in the food industry and for use as a sweetener in a variety of foods and beverages.

Further Details

Stage of Development

  • The university have on-going research to advance the technology to enter (end) product development stage.
  • Proof of concept of high level production in E.coli
  • Patented production technology
  • Proprietary purification procedure


Using proof of concept funding researchers have developed a proprietary purification method for the Brazzein produced that is facile, cheap, scalable – so can be used on the 10m3 fermentation scale required –and which only uses chemicals which can be found in a well-stocked kitchen.

The combination of it;

  • Being a natural sweetener
  • Having taste profile similar to sugar
  • Very high relative sweetness – implying it is effectively a zero calorie sweetener
  • Having excellent physical properties for the food and beverage industry
  • A purification method which should have no adverse consumer reaction


Make it an excellent potential replacement for both other sweeteners and sugar.


The university of Oulu are looking for industry partners that are interested of the production of the sweetener or using the sweetener in product development and potentially using it in new products.

  • Commercial partner
  • Development partner