Nuritas revolutionizes discovery process for novel, healthy ingredients

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nuritas revolutionizes discovery process for novel healthy ingredients
The Irish biotech Nuritas is changing how novel food-based ingredients with health-benefits are discovered and in doing so is revolutionizing innovation in the supplement space. 

“We are disrupting the way these ingredients have been found”​ by combining big data systems and bioinformatics to create an artificial intelligence system that quickly scans every gene and protein in a food sample for peptides that offer human health benefits, said company founder Nora Khaldi.

She further explained that the computer program simultaneously compares “bits”​ of food genes and proteins to “sections of the body”​ that if activated or inhibited provide specific health benefits.

The algorithm works similarly to how law enforcers can enter a fingerprint from the scene of a crime into a database of prior criminals to find a match and identify a suspect, Khaldi confirmed.

Scanning the billions of molecules in a whole genome to find peptides with potential health benefits “takes a while,” ​but the time investment is nothing compared to the old system for identifying beneficial peptides, Khaldi said.

She explains that Nuritas can find peptides 10 times faster than conventional research methods with 380 times more predictability of therapeutic discovery and at a thousandth of the cost.

Before Nuritas created the artificial intelligence, firms found useful peptides by blindly testing options in the lab, a process that could take five to 10 years without guaranteed results, Khaldi said. She added because this process was so time consuming and hit-or-miss, there are estimated to be less than three dozen health-benefiting peptides commercially available globally.

In less than a year, though, Nuritas has identified 20 novel peptides with “exceptional efficacy”​ in the health areas of interest to the firm, Khaldi said. Of these, she added, Nuritas already has fully developed and patented two to help regulate blood glucose levels.

Currently the company is focused on finding peptides in four key areas: anti-aging, which includes joint health, inflammation, muscle building and antimicrobial, Khaldi said. In the future, the company may expand into cognitive and mood, she added.

Seeking partnerships

The company also is open to requests for finding peptides with other health benefits, Khaldi said. Because Nuritas does not market the ingredients—it only finds and develops them—the company seeks partnerships with other firms that want to market them, she added.

She explained that there are three main ways that Nuritas partners with other firms. The first is simply working with a multinational to market a peptide Nuritas has already discovered.

The second is to contract with companies to scan their waste or by-products from the current creation of other applications to find any potentially beneficial peptides that can be sourced from the leftover material. This option is focused on changing value-left material to value-added, Khaldi said.

Finally, Nuritas can work with companies that have a target audience and health problem that they want to address but need an ingredient solution, she said.

Award-winning technology

The company’s innovative technology was recognized last month by Forbes, which awarded it the 2014 SVG Thrive Accelerator Award at the Forbes Reinventing America Ag Tech Summit in Salinas, Calif.

Nuritas beat out more than 100 other submissions for the award from around the world that focused on precision agriculture and food solutions for the food and wellness challenges of today.

The award validates Nuritas’ ability to discover new ingredients to enhance wellbeing, said Khaldi, who added she was thrilled to accept the recognition. 

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