AI and personalized nutrition: Nestlé and Nuritas partner on bioactive peptide development


09 Feb 2018 --- Nestlé and biotech company Nuritas have entered into a collaboration aiming to uncover bioactive peptide networks within “specific target areas of significant value.” The precise areas of investigation are not yet being shared, with Nuritas Commercial Manager Neil Foster telling NutritionInsight that these details and the expected launch date are “at this early stage understandably confidential.” As part of the collaboration, Nuritas is to deploy its novel technology platform, which uses Artificial Intelligence and DNA analysis to predict, unlock and validate highly efficacious peptides, exclusively from natural food sources. Nestlé will use their considerable scientific know-how and applications expertise to validate the efficacy of these discoveries within the target applications.

“Powered by our use of big-data and Artificial Intelligence, Nuritas’ approach to peptide discovery provides incredible speed and accuracy. With that being considered it makes sense to apply it to the areas of greatest consumer need or industries’ toughest problems. In our collaboration with Nestlé, we are looking to address such an area,” Foster tells NutritionInsight.
“At Nuritas, our mission is to positively impact billions of lives worldwide and we therefore are delighted to be collaborating with Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, on such an important project. We are really looking forward to beginning this impactful journey together,” said Nora Khaldi, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Nuritas. 
The collaboration comes as Swiss food giant Nestlé continues to target nutrition, health and wellness and pursue growth opportunities in consumer healthcare to complement its focus on its high-growth food and beverage categories.
“As our understanding of food and nutrition continues to grow, our global research and development network is looking ahead to discover how we can help enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future for everyone. Research partnerships such as that with Nuritas help us achieve that goal,” says Richard Stadler at the Nestlé Research Centre.
Recently listed by Silicon Republic among Europe’s 20 of the most innovative health and medtech start-ups, Nuritas is a digital biotechnology and R&D company which has garnered global interest for its peptide-finding platform capabilities, leading to some interesting deals for future products. One of those in the public domain is for some specific peptides that are now with BASF Human Nutrition.

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Neil Foster at the Future of Nutrition Summit at FiE 2017.

“We’ll see them launch a product early in 2018, which will be a very exciting moment [because it will] take something from in silico computer discovery all the way through to an ingredient that food manufacturers can start to use,” Foster comments.
Although the product has yet to be announced, BASF noted in December that the collaboration will pertain to the US launch of an anti-inflammatory for sports nutrition in 2018. 
Another exciting project for the company is a Horizon 2020 grant that has unlocked €3 million (US$3.52 million) to advance one of its discoveries in the area of prediabetes. 
“That’s in human clinical trials at the moment, and the endpoint for that is an article 13.5 health claim submission, which is going to be a first-of-its-kind ingredient,” Foster comments.
At FiE 2017 in Frankfurt, Foster presented on this technology. “We are a disruptive startup using AI. We are highly active in Asia, the US and Europe,” he says. Foster claims that Nuritas already have the biggest database of patented peptides, with the next biggest player being Novartis. 
Nuritas has received backing from some of the most successful investors in the world including New Protein Capital, early Facebook and Dropbox investors Ali Partovi and U2’s Bono and The Edge, as well as Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff.
When asked, he summarized why a wide strong of investors have been motivated to invest in this startup. “The investors understand AI very well and have applied it in other business areas. They understand the power that exists within it and from a personal perspective they also understand the financial drive there is that taking back technology to something with real health benefits is really appealing too; so understanding that skill. These are new discoveries and the macro conditions of an aging, growing population with deteriorating health is a huge fundamental need,” he explains. 
Ultimately, what they are investing in is speed, he adds. “The rise of personalized nutrition when there will be a need for so many new things, we are getting it now through questions whether you need simple carbohydrates or not. But what it is going to turn into is something more complex in terms of whether we can we get a food that is designed around positively influencing your epigenetics. The food ingredients industry is going to take 20 years to develop 5 products for 5 different people. When you start to look at this sort of levels of speed, you can truly get something that comes at a more individual level,” he concludes.

By Lucy Gunn and Robin Wyers

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