In this health video you will learn how Cypress Systems got its start and became the leading outlet of high selenium yeast.
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Dr. Mark Willis: Paul, you have a very unique background, in terms you’ve almost—you’re heading towards two decades of doing work on high selenium yeast and yeast products and can you tell me a little bit about your background because it’s very unique in the high selenium world. Paul A. Willis: Really, fortuitously, I had the opportunity to join a biotech group with Phillips Petroleum in 1987. And at that point, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Lon Baugh. He was our director of fermentation in this biotechnology group and earlier, in the 80s—around 1980-83—Dr. Baugh developed the product that we call today, high selenium yeast. The production protocol related to taking bakers yeast and growing it in a selenium-rich environment and organically binding that and replicating the process that plants go through in organically binding selenium. So he and I began working together in 1987 and that’s really where I began to learn about these nutritional, or specialty, yeast products. As much happens, corporations go through lots of changes. There were a lot of mergers and acquisitions and I had the opportunity through an acquisition of this biotech group to begin to work with Fleischman’s Yeast. They acquired this special yeast division from the biotech group at Phillip’s Petroleum. Dr. Mark Will: They’re one of the largest yeast manufacturers in the world. Aren’t they world-wide? Paul A. Willis: One of the largest and most well-known yeast companies—baker’s yeast companies—in the world and you can go into every department store and see the little, yellow pack of Fleischman’s Yeast that we use in making our bread and they supply much of the yeast products to the baking industry. [I] had to opportunity to begin to work with Fleischman’s Yeast, where they were continuing the manufacturing of the high selenium yeast that was developed in 1980 and ran their special yeast division from ‘95 to ’96, and again—through different corporate structures—we had the opportunity to acquire that special yeast group, put an investor group together and we began Cypress in June of 1996. Although we had been involved with the technology —Dr. Baugh had been the originator and the developer of the technology; I’d been involved with him since 1987—had the opportunity to put a privately held investor group together and acquire that special yeast group from Fleischman’s and began Cypress in June of 1996. And, again, very fortuitously, the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer trial was published in JAMA in December—Christmas Eve—of 1996. So, we began Cypress in June of 1996, officially, and by Christmas Eve of 1996, what had been a relatively small piece of business for us at Fleischman’s, all of a sudden became a very well-known piece of business and a very large supply of a branded ingredient that’s used in the dietary supplement industry. We standardize the product with the National Cancer Institute, signed a clinical trial agreement in 1998. We’re now in a complete series of cancer prevention, health related trials—and really continue the work that was begun clear back in the 1980s. And we’re continuing that effort even today. And have gained an FDA GRAS application—Generally Regarded As Safe—so we’ve opened new doors to now enter in to the functional food market, with an organically bound form of selenium.