Native proteins may have characteristics that make them unsuitable for the desired applications: low solubility, high viscosity, thermal unstability, presence of anti-nutritional factors… Several technics are available to modify the functional properties of proteins:
- With this method, protein are partially hydrolyzed by one or more enzymes. The choice of the enzymatic cocktail, the environment conditions (pH, temperature, concentration…) and final degree of hydrolysis can modulate the functionality of the proteins. This method is often used industrially to increase solubility of insoluble proteins such as gluten.
- Thermal treatment. With this technics, a controlled thermal treatment is applied to the proteins, leading to protein partial denaturation and aggregation. Thermal treatments can be applied to reduce microbial contamination, destroy anti-nutritional factors, but also to modify protein digestibility and functional properties. The use of thermal treatment is routinely used industrially for feed.
- Chemical modification. Chemical modifications can be applied to proteins with the use of enzymes: acylation, alkylation, reduction / oxydation and aromatic ring substitution. Chemical modification is strictly controlled for food applications, but can also be applied for non-food applications such as detergents and pharmaceuticals.
Protein modification trials can be performed at IMPROVE from lab scale (~ 100 mL) to pilot scale (10 L to 1000L).