Unlocking life-changing peptides from foods

FEATURED SPEAKER Fi EUROPE 2017 CONFERENCE
The F&B industry wants scientific substantiation, full characterisation and ultimately a route to make health claims. Consumers want natural and have an inherent understanding that what we eat and our health are one and the same. According to Neil Foster, Commercial Manager Nuritas, the Nuritas approach gives both sides what they are looking for.

Neil Foster

 

Can you explain briefly a bit about Nuritas and the work it does?
‘Nuritas are combining Artificial Intelligence and Genomics to target, predict and unlock life-changing bioactive peptides from foods. We live in a world with mounting health concerns; a growing number of chronic diseases and a rapidly aging population. Our mission is for our bioactive peptides to improve billions of lives worldwide.’

Can you tell us about some of the ‘life changing discoveries’ you have made?
‘The areas we have initially focussed on are diabetes, inflammation and anti-aging but the potential areas for our technology are almost endless. In each of these areas we have looked thus far, we’ve made significant discoveries which we have taken from in silico prediction through to real world in vivo proof of efficacy. We’ve received a EU Horizon 2020 grant for our work in the area of diabetes prevention, where we have Nuritas peptides currently going through human clinical trials with the end-point of the project being a submission for an EFSA Article 13.5 health claim.’

AI & food aren’t two things you’d normally associate with each other. How have these methods of discovery been met by the F&B industry? Do they trust it?
‘Whilst the technology of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning might not be one that the industry is particularly knowledgeable about just yet. It is the outputs, in our case the Nuritas bioactive peptides, that speak for themselves. The F&B industry wants scientific substantiation, full characterisation and ultimately a route to make claims. Consumers want natural and have an inherent understanding that what we eat and our health are one and the same. The Nuritas approach gives both sides what they are looking for.’

What role do you think that AI and machine learning will play in food industry in the future?
‘A huge one. These technologies are already starting to impact a number of areas; from food technology around protein replacement, to predicted nutrient degradation over life, to photo recognition of produce, its origin and freshness on your smartphone.’

What are the challenges around using mathematical methods to solve food industry problems?
‘Actually very few; mathematics lends itself very nicely to a number of areas of food technology and nutritional science.’

Your keynote presentation at the Fi Conference will look at how the industry’s approach to innovation will change in the future. What do you think will be the biggest change?
‘Speed. Genomics (both human but also plant) has effectively turned biology into a data - science. Companies not taking a data-driven approach to health are not going to be relevant in the new era of functional foods and nutrition.’

You’re also talking at the Future of Nutrition Summit – what are your predictions for the industry in 5+ years’ time?
‘In the near future, we are certainly going to see an injection of revolutionary ingredients that bring game-changing clinically significant efficacy. Some of these will have been discovered by new technologies; and some will be in exciting new areas that have been unlocked by technology, such as epigenetics and the microbiome. However, somewhere just beyond the horizon, there is a time where monitoring (e.g. DNA, blood, Microbiome), self-tracking and meaningful personalised nutrition solutions converge to totally disrupt the existing status quo. This is where things get really interesting. Who needs health claims when you can see the results of what you are eating for yourself in real-time?’

Neil Foster will be talking about ‘Using AI to create new ingredients’ at the Future of Nutrition Summit on Monday 27th November 2017 from 11:30-12:00.
He will also be giving the Keynote Presentation: ‘The future of F&B: insights into the changing approach to innovation’ at the Fi Europe Conference 2017 on Wednesday, 29th November 2017 at 10:30–10:45.