While insects are a very sustainable source of protein, All Things Bugs LLC is innovating to make them a feasible commodity for the food industry. All Things Bugs LLC, President, Founder, and Owner Dr. Aaron T. Dossey, is a world leader and pioneer in research, technology, and commercializing high-quality food ingredients from farm-raised insects. All Things Bugs is taking farm-raised insects to the next level. With DARPA (military) funding, we are using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and other methodologies to develop base technologies for creating insects as a new bioresource. Our innovations are developing insects that are disease resistant and higher in nutritional value. We are also developing technologies to produce non-food bioproducts in insects, including vaccines, antimicrobials, pharmaceuticals, and other valuable bioproducts.
Insects offer unique and potentially transformative potential when genetic engineering tools are applied–particularly compared with other animal livestock or plant crops. Insects are small, grow rapidly, have a high reproductive rate, and can be easily manipulated and maintained in the laboratory for rapid and efficient genetic modification and phenotypic analysis and optimization. We are using genetic engineering to increase their nutritional content and make them more disease-resistant, hardy, and productive (increased growth rate and feed conversion efficiency). Farm-raised insects with an improved amino-acid profile, resistant to insect viral pathogens, and more nutritionally dense with higher levels of vitamins and minerals can be game changers in world food security.
Although insects offer a great option for increasing the food supply sustainably, some limitations exist in scaling up this crop. Like any organism or agricultural system, insects can be at risk of pathogens during mass rearing. For example, in the past, some cricket farmers have lost their entire inventory due to outbreaks of paralytic epizootic Acheta domesticus densovirus (AdDNV). This is why All Things Bugs is developing virus-resistant insects to alleviate this potential supply chain risk. Further, genetic engineering could enhance desired traits of insects, such as increasing levels of certain amino acids to become more nutritionally similar to proteins such as whey. Genetic engineering could also produce insect lines that are enriched in other critical nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, D, and K, iron, calcium, iodine, and others.
Other Uses of Insects: Insects hold promise for other uses beyond food sources to provide nutrients to humans. Many opportunities exist for insects as a functional feed for other animals or as an untapped resource for pharmaceuticals. For example, insects contain polypeptides and secondary metabolites, which may have antibiotic or other drug-like biological activities. Insects also are rich in chitin which can have applications in biocompatible materials (wound healing, bandages, sutures, and other medical applications), plastics, and other useful materials. Beyond the potentially valuable natural substances that insects contain, genetic engineering opens a new world of tremendous potential to utilize these animals as biofactories for the efficient production of valuable biological materials such as vaccines with simple resource inputs and in small modular spaces, without the need for high tech ultra-clean facilities (often not available in remote areas). Additionally, insects are animals, so they may have advantages over plants, bacteria, and other organisms in the bioproduction of gene products that those organisms cannot produce properly. Some materials that may be produced in genetically engineered insects include vaccines, medicines, enzymes, antibiotics, antimicrobial peptides, antibodies, insect repellents, color pigments and dyes, flavors, fragrances, functional ingredients, plastics, and many others.
Developing the tools for genetic engineering in food insects provides an open-ended opportunity to use insects for purposes besides mere sources of food, protein, and dietary nutrients. With our innovations, we anticipate that producing vaccines or other high-value insect bioproducts will provide a low-cost, low-tech, and clean/sustainable vehicle for producing such materials. Insect-produced vaccines, for example, can be efficacious and even edible (i.e., easily administered) and will have a long shelf-life, requiring no refrigeration, as live insects containing the vaccines can be shipped and grown worldwide as needed. Therefore, insect-based vaccines will be available to all populations, even those in remote areas of developing countries. We are particularly excited about the opportunity that genetically engineered insects offer in bioproduction, as they can be reared for low cost and scaled up as biofactories to produce a number of products that will be needed in the future, such as pharmaceuticals and value-added products for current commercialized food.
All Things Bugs LLC is one of the only companies developing cutting-edge genetic engineering tools for use with crickets (Acheta domesticus), mealworms (Tenebrio monitor), and other insects.
Please contact us to learn more and inquire how we can collaborate, partner, and provide our innovations to benefit your food or bioproduction applications!