Pharmavite turns to Brightseed for phytonutrient AI discovery that shifts healthcare paradigm
23 Nov 2020 --- Brightseed’s Forager artificial intelligence (AI) will be used by Pharmavite to identify undiscovered plant phytonutrients for their health potential. These could then be integrated into Pharmavite’s portfolio of brands and supplements, including Nature Made.
“Our partnership with Brightseed is a multi-phased process that begins with the research and discovery of novel phytonutrients, clinical validation, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory approvals, and finally, product development and integration,” Tobe Cohen, chief growth officer of Pharmavite, tells NutritionInsight.
He continues that Pharmavite’s focus is on always getting it right versus getting there fast. “However, we are confident that leveraging Forager AI will help shorten the path to discovery where we could have new products in potentially half the time of more traditional development.”
Identifying natural compounds
Phytonutrients are tiny molecules found in plants with anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective and neuroprotective properties.
The collaboration is focused on solving a specific health challenge by asking what phytonutrients in Forager’s library are likely to help this condition.
Specifically, Forager will target specific human biological pathways and identify new active natural compounds that are scientifically validated through biomedical processes.
Then, Pharmavite will bring new discoveries into the lab for clinical testing and validation to support claims in future product integrations.
The specific terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. However, Pharmavite will have proprietary control over compound discoveries stemming from the partnership for its product integration.
“These partnerships are structured to be mutually beneficial and our partners gain a sustainable advantage with early access to these discoveries,” adds Michele Mieuli, vice president of business development at Brightseed.
Coming out of the dark ages
Forager uses AI to map the biological relationships between plants and people. This allows it to infer which small molecules in plants will yield the greatest benefit to human health and wellness.
Brightseed’s co-founder and CEO, Dr. Jim Flatt, argues that Forager’s visibility into the plant kingdom is facilitating a new era of scientific discovery.
“In many ways, this is reminiscent of the sequencing of the human genome, which powered massive innovation in health and medicine. Thanks to the pharmaceutical industry, we know a lot about the human body and its biological pathways.”
“However, we have been in the ‘dark ages’ when it comes to understanding how plant compounds impact these pathways. Forager is generating the world’s plant compound data, mostly from scratch, and applying this knowledge for human health discoveries,” Flatt details.
Ultimately, Forager can help shift the healthcare paradigm from one focused on the treatment of disease to one that promotes resilience naturally, he adds.
A massive undertaking
Although two-thirds of FDA-approved medicines are originally derived from the small molecules found in plants, bacteria and fungi, less than 1 percent of existing phytonutrients have been identified or studied.
Forager overcomes many of the challenges associated with new compound discovery. Flatt points to the multi-year timeframes, multi-million dollar investments and uncertain outcomes associated with previous techniques.
One challenge in searching for novel bioactive ingredients in plants is that some promising bioactives may not be present at high enough levels.
“Forager’s ability to rapidly identify plants able to produce promising bioactives mitigates, but doesn’t completely eliminate this challenge for some bioactives. In these cases, we would explore alternative production methods, including synthetic biology,” says Flatt.
Brightseed is now building a vast plant compound library and sourcing new plants for analysis, which Flatt describes as a “massive” undertaking.
Corporate partnerships afoot
In June, Brightseed announced a partnership with Danone North America to investigate the phytonutrients in its plant-based supply chain, starting with soy.
Brightseed is also working on other corporate partnerships that cannot yet be disclosed. However, Mieuli notes that Forager’s capabilities apply to a variety of industries, including supplements, nutraceuticals, functional ingredients and specialized nutrition.
“We are in conversations with companies that have a vested interest in discovering and developing novel product offerings that address the biggest health challenges of our time.”
“By starting with a database of powerful natural compounds, we greatly increase our chance of success and can create clean label products for consumers to incorporate into their daily routines,” she adds.
By Katherine Durrell
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.