Boosted by biotech: How scientists hope to deploy genome sequencing tech to disrupt the meals and complement house

WGS is a laboratory method that entails figuring out the entire DNA sequence of an organism’s genome. “The idea was pioneered within the Seventies, but it surely was not till the event of high-throughput sequencing applied sciences within the early 2000s that the method turned low-cost and quick sufficient to be sensible and extensively used,”​ Gurry defined. 

In 2018, the European Fee launched The EU 1 Million Genomes Venture, an formidable initiative aimed toward making a shared knowledge platform of 1 million sequenced human genomes. Complete-genome sequencing applied sciences have since revolutionised meals security, enabling producers to precisely hint the introduction and transmission chains of pathogens and spoilage organisms in meals manufacturing.


“When a pathogen or spoilage organism is detected in a meals pattern, its whole genome could be sequenced and in comparison with databases of identified pathogen and spoilage organism genomes to find out the precise pressure and subtype,”​ stated Dr Gurry. “By evaluating the genomes of various samples, researchers can determine shared genetic markers and mutations, permitting them to trace the unfold of the organism and determine the supply of contamination.”

WGS can be used to detect outbreaks of foodborne sickness, by evaluating the genomes of pathogens remoted from totally different people who’ve turn into unwell. Along with tracing the transmission chains of pathogens and spoilage organisms in meals manufacturing, WGS can be used to observe the microbiome of meals manufacturing amenities, figuring out potential sources of contamination and serving to producers take proactive steps to stop the unfold of dangerous organisms.

The potential of those cutting-edge applied sciences extends past meals security

Nevertheless, the potential of those cutting-edge applied sciences within the meals manufacturing sector extends additional, Dr Gurry advised us. Pioneering scientists and meals producers have just lately begun to use refined genome sequencing strategies to engineer meals dietary supplements which have highly effective well being advantages. Complete-genome sequencing can be utilized to develop and manufacture meals with explicit flavours or highly effective well being advantages by enabling scientists to determine and characterise microorganisms that produce useful compounds. “This info can then be used to develop meals merchandise and dietary supplements that optimise the microorganisms’ manufacturing of the compounds,” ​he stated. “Data and insights obtained from a genetic mapping course of has enabled the event of each generic and personalised eating regimen complement merchandise engineered to enhance particular well being outcomes.”

Dr Gurry describes himself as a computational and methods biologist eager about translational functions of the human intestine microbiome who has developed a mixture of experimental and computational strategies to engineer the fermentation capabilities of a affected person’s microbiota with a purpose to optimise well being outcomes. This data was subsequently spun into the health-tech start-up myota.

Intestine well being innovator myota has embraced breakthrough analysis into the workings of intestine micro organism to launch a patented microbiome self-test package.

Intestine well being take a look at to ‘demystify your microbiome’

Sequencing a person’s genome permits scientists to detect genetic variations that may affect nutrient metabolism or different health-related elements, continued the co-founder. This data can be utilized to create meals merchandise and complement formulation tailor-made to particular dietary necessities or well being points. Myota, for instance, amid in depth analysis now pointing to a number of hyperlinks between a wholesome intestine microbiome and the physique’s means to stop and reverse persistent illness (together with weight problems, diabetes, COPD, arthritis and IBD) makes tailor-made fibre blends that enhance an individual’s intestine and general well being by serving to your intestine microbiome produce extra brief chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

The UK-based start-up has additionally used what it describes as breakthrough analysis into the workings of intestine micro organism to develop a patented microbiome self-test package. Customers of the £300 package deal are given unparalleled perception into the distinctive composition and well being of their intestine micro organism. The corporate claims that for the primary time ever, the take a look at outcomes will even reveal the sorts of fibres most well-liked by the topic’s microbiome, offering a roadmap to bettering its well being and exercise. 

Following on-line order and residential supply, customers are supplied with a package and directions for accumulating a small stool pattern from a chunk of bathroom paper. The pattern is posted again to a lab, the place the trillions of intestine micro organism are sequenced and an in depth report generated 

Customers obtain a personalised intestine microbiome report, together with info on the distinctive composition, variety and fibre fermentation functionality of their microbiome, and the way this compares to the typical for his or her age group and intercourse.

“This new diagnostic package presents an accessible alternative for anybody to get began on their intestine well being journey. Except you may have an understanding of which sorts of fibre your personal microbiome is specialised to ferment, it’s unimaginable to know how you can adapt your eating regimen for optimised well being,”​ stated Dr Gurry. “This package, coupled with help from our in-house dietitian – takes the guesswork away.”​ 

The method sounds convoluted. But dwelling microbiome testing is on monitor to be one among 2023’s fastest-growing well being traits, the start-up claims. For instance, the interval well being start-up Daye just lately raised $10 million from buyers to launch the world’s first tampon-based at-home vaginal microbiome screening platform, and Sequential Pores and skin just lately launched its pores and skin microbiome take a look at package. 

“As advances in sequencing applied sciences enable deeper probing into the genetic materials current inside a person’s intestine more and more cost-effectively, it turns into doable to tailor dietary selections to the person,”​ continued Dr Gurry.

For instance, prebiotic fibre is an important element of a wholesome human eating regimen, as it’s fermented by the intestine microbiome to supply SCFAs that are important for sustaining well being and stopping a number of persistent ailments – together with sort 2 diabetes. are confirmed to assist cut back the chance of a number of persistent ailments, together with atherosclerosis and diabetes 

Nevertheless, since totally different intestine micro organism choose several types of prebiotic fibre, most individuals don’t eat sufficient of the ‘proper’ prebiotic fibre that’s greatest for his or her well being. “To precisely predict the knowledge current in a microbiome pattern, it’s vital to grasp the genomes of every bacterium within the microbiome, together with the operate of every of their genes. With this understanding, particular genes liable for producing SCFAs and breaking down prebiotics could be recognized,”​ the CEO noticed.

“By formulating a complement mix that gives all of the required sorts of prebiotic fibre that a person’s microbiome requires, it’s doable to optimise SCFA manufacturing for each particular person and ship related psychological and bodily advantages. This removes the guesswork from intestine well being and gives a personalised resolution for optimum intestine well being.”

Totally evidenced claims can remedy ‘health-washing’

In a saturated useful meals market, in the meantime, merchandise underpinned by biotechnology are differentiated by their totally evidenced well being enchancment claims, the scientist believes. 

Customers are uninterested in ‘health-washing’ in product advertising and marketing, and ‘over-blown, under-evidenced claims that fail to ship noticeable advantages’. The time is due to this fact ripe for merchandise developed utilizing insights from genome sequencing, he claimed. “This is a chance for differentiation; merchandise developed utilizing insights from genome sequencing profit from a wealth of scientific analysis and established proof backing their efficacy.

“As we be taught extra concerning the relationship between eating regimen, wellness, longevity and persistent illness, the proof for a lot of of those merchandise will turn into much more compelling to customers and producers.”