Probiota 2022: AI the key to deeper data mining in probiotic discovery

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

“Data assets and AI tech equals valuable ingredients assets,” states Dr Kimmo Makinen, Innovation Director, Novozymes OneHealth.
“Data assets and AI tech equals valuable ingredients assets,” states Dr Kimmo Makinen, Innovation Director, Novozymes OneHealth.

Related tags Probiota Novozymes Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has evolved to a point, where it can be used to analyse ‘omics data to identify mechanisms of action that underlie health benefits desirable to today’s consumer.

That was the view of Dr Kimmo Makinen, Innovation Director at Novozymes OneHealth, who was speaking at the recent Probiota conference in Copenhagen.

In a presentation entitled: ‘Challenges in the discovery of probiotics and how AI could change the game,’​ Dr Kimmo Makinen explains that omics data analysis can uncover new features that could underlie a health condition.

Dr Makinen expanded this idea with the suggestion that AI could be used to complement literature searches by generating new insights via publicly available data.

“This doesn't mean that you have to do your own experiments all over again,”​ said Dr Makinen.

“Every publication has a lot of data behind it. In a high-profile journal, for example, the paper itself is more like a teaser.

“What you can do is you can take comparable studies that address the health benefits of interest and pull them together to create far bigger datasets, which you can then reanalyse,” ​he added.

“You could then arrive at these kinds of points of differentiation between healthy populations and disease populations.”

Hypotheses or correlation  

Dr Makinen, who has been Novozymes Innovation Director, for four and a half years, goes on to suggest that whatever kind of data you have, whether it be microbiome or transcriptome, AI could assist in forming a hypotheses or correlation.

AI’s capabilities could also play a role here by assisting with data mining via text comprehension algorithms.

“You can mine patient records if you have those available,”​ he said. They're very powerful to arrive at these kinds of scientific or physiological insights.

“We can also use consumer interviews, web scraping product reviews, Google Trends to understand how the scientific opportunity that actually fits with the consumer reality.

“And we can also mine the IP and marketing landscape to understand how that sits with market opportunities,” Dr Makinen added.

“In the end, this kind of data fusion, would point you to a potential opportunity giving you an idea of whether the innovation is worthwhile or not.

“And I'm not saying here that AI is going to make the decision for you and never will, right. But it will give you heaps of data in a form that will support your decision so that you will do that right innovation of that project in the first place.”

SmartGuard & Biofresh

Novozymes OneHealth, based in Bagsvaerd Denmark, is a focused on developing probiotics, enzymes, and other active ingredients in the dietary supplement and functional foods space.

One of the firm’s products, SmartGuard helps manage daily lead build-up, which uses specifically selected lactobacillus plantarum​ strains to bind to the heavy metal, where it can no longer be absorbed by the body.

Its other product Biofresh targets the sulphurous compounds, that cause bad breath via a combination of an enzyme and a plant bioactive that bind to these compounds rendering them insoluble.

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