ACTIWHEY® - Technology & Development


We have developed and patented a process to activate (modify) and fractionate whey proteins into soluble and non soluble protein fractions. Our activation method improves the functional properties of the whey protein which enables us to create additive free emulsions and gels, microcapsules and even clear protein films. The activation also improves the digestibility and hydrolysability of the whey protein, rendering a value added ingredient for food industry as well as a natural raw material for a new microencapsulating technology. 



whey protein

Whey protein

Whey, a by-product of cheese production, was long regarded as waste, used only for pig feed or dumped into fields as fertilizer. Properly processed whey, however, is an ideal source of protein, the value of which is widely recognized today. Whey proteins have distinct advantages to offer. Structurally whey proteins are globulins, nutritionally one of the best proteins in existence. Whey protein is rich in sulphur-containing amino acids as well as tryptophan and the branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) valine, leucine and isoleucine. Its composition makes whey protein a valuable nutraceutical ingredient in food.


Patented technology

In our patented modification process, the protein structure is activated by the cleavage of disulphide bonds to liberate sulfhydryl (SH-) groups. The protein composition remains the same also after modification, but 15-30 % of the disulphide bonds in protein molecules are cleaved into SH groups. The degree of modification determines the number of SH groups available for interchange and other beneficial reactions where SH groups are involved. 

The activated whey protein is called ACTIWHEY®, which is the registered trademark of Uniq Bioresearch Oy Ltd. 


Functionality through free SH groups

The ACTIWHEY® protein molecules contain two to four free SH groups while unmodified whey proteins on average have less than one. SH-groups are known to perform an important function in the safety of food as well as contributing positively to human metabolism due to their high antioxidative capacity, their role in the detoxification processes and in assisting to prevent the formation of harmful compounds in food processing. 


Antioxidativity and detoxyfication

SH groups of ACTIWHEY® support the detoxification processes because they can act as nitrite traps and play a role in metal chelation. They are also known to conjugate and detoxify xenobiotics and to quench potentially toxic free radicals forming soluble and inactive derivatives. These can then be eliminated more readily by the kidneys than the parent compounds. Microbial and plant toxins containing disulphide bonds can be inactivated by interchange. SH groups act to detoxify aflatoxins found in mould contaminated grain as well as acrylamide or -nitrile. 


Preserves nutritive value

SH groups contribute to the preservation of nutritive value of food during processing. They act to prevent the formation of the harmful Amadori compound that is one of the Maillard reaction compounds. SH groups also help to prevent the formation of lysinoalanine by reacting with the double bond of dehydroalanine. These reactions are known to have negative effects, e.g. lysine, an essential amino acid, is lost in these reactions. 


Examples of different properties achieved with free SH groups:


Functional properties

Extending shelf life

Health benefits

Foam creation Effective Antioxidant Effective antioxidant
Gel formation Prevents non-enzymatic and enzymatic browning Neutralizes acetaldehyde
Emulsifying properties Prevents the formation of Maillard's reaction compounds Chelates heavy metals, traps nitrates

Polymerization (by interchange reaction)

Open SH groups form covalent bonds that improve polymerization and capsule stability Detoxifies aflatoxins and acrylamide
Good heat and moisture resistance -S-S- covalent bonds are strong and durable Prevents the formation of amadori compound