Sibelius uses proprietary epigenetic assay to find best raw material for new chamomile supplement

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Vera_Petrunina
Getty Images / Vera_Petrunina
Using a proprietary assay, supplement ingredient developer Sibelius has lined up a special raw material for a new chamomile extract for the US market.

In the fall of last year the company introduced a branded sage extract for cognitive health​ in the US market. The UK-based company says it is now in the final process of developing its second branded extract, a new chamomile offering positioned as a better sleep aid.

Different chamomile species chosen

Sibelius has chosen a different species, known as Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile​ or Anthemis nobilis ​L.​). The company says the extract is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs and possesses strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and relaxation properties, according to a 2013 Portuguese study​.

Traditional use of the ingredient includes respiratory complaints, skin inflammation, gastrointestinal discomfort and sleep disorders. The company said that while it is often confused with the more common German chamomile (M. camomilla​ L.), its phytochemical profile is distinct, and potentially offers greater efficacy.

Sibelius product manager Loukiana Chatzinasiou said the company uses a proprietary screening technology it has now branded as Chronoscreen​ to determine the precise bioactivity of candidate compounds and raw materials such as the Roman Chamomile. This ability to precisely delineate what these bioactive ingredients are doing at the cellular level sets the company’s product development pipeline apart, she said.

“Using this platform we have screened more than 300 different herbal ingredients,” ​she said.

The platform uses a well researched model organism, C. elegans​. The soil nematode was first proposed as a model organism in 1965 by South African geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate Sydney Brenner​. This nematode offered great potential for genetic analysis, partly because of its rapid (3-day) life cycle, small size (1.5-mm-long adult), and ease of laboratory cultivation. 

Approach speeds Sibelius' pathway to market

This soil nematode has been used in anti-aging research, which has helped direct product development in the supplement industry​. But Chatzinasiou said Sibelius is using it as a way to cast a wider net in product development, and to quickly see what are the best candidates for a deeper look. Sibelius uses its screening technology to see what natural compounds are doing at an epigenetic level.  

“We can quickly see how the different extracts we apply affect the different genes of the worm. We look at which ones are up regulated or down regulated. Then we can match those genes with human genes. About 70% of the genetic code of ​C. elegans matches up with the human genome,” ​she said.

After promising product development candidates are identified, Chatzinasiou said the platform can then be used to fine tune an extract before commencing in vitro​ and in vivo​ pilot studies. That could cut costs and speed the pathway to market.

“It helps us to optimize the dose and to use that dose for further trials,”​ she said.

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