Particles for Humanity transforms medical technologies originated in academic labs into products that meet the health care needs of people in developing countries.
Particles for Humanity (PFH) works to reduce Vitamin A deficiency through technology-enhanced food fortification. Vitamin A deficiency threatens millions of people living in poverty with stunting, compromised immune systems, blindness, and death. Fortification can alleviate these health risks and is especially critical as climate change negatively impacts the availability and content of nutritious foods.
PFH was incubated at the Langer Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which works at the interface of biotechnology and materials science. Fortifying food is a proven means to deliver micronutrients affordably and at scale—almost 90 percent of people worldwide consume salt that has been fortified with iodine. Vitamin A is an excellent candidate for fortification because it is fundamental to good health—especially for pregnant women and babies—yet 19 million pregnant women and 190 million children under the age of five are Vitamin A deficient. Attempts to fortify foods with Vitamin A have had limited success because it is unstable when exposed to heat, light, and water during storage and cooking. PFH’s innovative approach to this challenge is a breakthrough microencapsulation technology that allows Vitamin A to remain stable during cooking and when stored in hot and humid conditions.
Vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in Central and West Africa, where more than 80 percent of people consume bouillon on a regular basis. PFH will integrate its encapsulated Vitamin A into bouillon so that it can be easily cooked, consumed, and absorbed. Bouillon manufacturers have widespread distribution systems in place and PFH plans to partner with ingredient manufacturers who supply bouillon producers. In this way, millions of people will gain effortless access to this vital micronutrient.
King Philanthropies’ support will help PFH verify that its encapsulated Vitamin A is absorbed as intended when added to bouillon. Once these studies are complete, and assuming they confirm the approach, PFH will prepare for commercial scale up. Fortified bouillon will then become available to millions of people across Central and West Africa and have an immediate impact on their health and well-being.