‘Not an AI box of tricks’: Nuritas moves industry forward with peptide library

By Claudia Adrien

- Last updated on GMT

Nuritas uses its AI technology to advance product development for other firms as well as improve its own portfolio. @ Paper Boat Creative / Getty Images
Nuritas uses its AI technology to advance product development for other firms as well as improve its own portfolio. @ Paper Boat Creative / Getty Images

Related tags AI personalised nutrition

Biotechnology company Nuritas began its AI journey not in a laboratory but in the wild with wallabies. Nora Khaldi, Nuritas founder and CEO, found inspiration from the unlikely source, observing that wallabies have two types of milk with different kinds of peptides that their offspring consume. When the wrong mother’s milk is fed to a wallaby offspring at the wrong time, it doesn’t grow.

Understanding what types of peptides and when they are important are fundamental questions not only in wallabies but in humans. Wallaby milk is rich in peptides, the short string of amino acids, known for conferring immunological protection in offspring. Khaldi said​ she wondered what kinds of plants and their peptides could provide similar biological benefits for people.

This is where AI comes into the fold. To address questions of timing and application requires not only clinical trials but a significant amount of computing power.

“What Nuritas has done in the last seven years is we've built a library from multiple food grade plant sources where we've cataloged the peptides within them,” said Andy Franklyn Miller, chief medical and innovation officer at Nuritas.

The Nuritas AI Magnifier, the company’s AI platform, can reduce research and development time from what used to take years to a matter of days.   

How the AI works

The AI magnifier identifies ‘fingerprints’ of peptide sequences within plants and then turns them into ingredients for the consumer. Nuritas takes plants, dries and grinds them up and then puts them through enzymatic changes and into mass spectroscopy to create the company’s proprietary database of plant sources and peptides.

The company has run over 200 million biological experiments on peptides in its library to date to understand what they do.

“The difference about our platform is that it has six years of real-world data, so those multiple food sources are unique to us,” Miller said. “We’ve created a peptide library that you could not just start tomorrow.”

For its muscle-building ingredient PeptiStrong, the company was interested in finding out which network of peptides will affect muscle health positively. However, researchers also had to keep in mind survivability in the gut.

Beyond cataloging peptides, they used AI to create models that could predict which paths to discovery would optimize gut survivability.

“Peptides are great at being injected, but they weren't that great at being orally available, so we had to build in [AI] models to make sure that these peptides would survive digestion,” Miller said.

Determining this level of efficacy means minimizing risk. Nuritas wanted to eliminate much of the early risk involved in development, and the AI Magnifier is now 64% successful at finding networks of peptides that can achieve certain functions, Miller added.

In comparison, it’s rare and expensive to find new ingredients because the failure rate is typically almost 100%, Miller explained.

“We've really built the platform to then go as proof points with partners to say, ‘Look, the technology works, this is not an AI box of tricks,’” Miller said.


Whether it's giving consumers wider choices in food or impacting the development of peptide-based supplements, Nuritas’ business model is two-fold. The company uses its AI technology to advance product development for other firms as well as improve its own portfolio. It has helped to create everything from muscle-building supplements to ingredients that assist in lowering cortisol levels to improve sleep latency.

“If this was traditional ingredient development, it could take us three to five years to match a peptide from a source material to a receptor,” Miller said.

In one of the latest partnerships announced earlier this month with Swiss manufacturer Givaudan, Nuritas will assist that company to identify new natural peptide solutions to advance flavor and taste innovations.

Fabio Campanile, head of Taste and Wellbeing Science and Technology at Givaudan said in statement that “this collaboration represents a significant step forward in our collective mission to address the desires and expectations of consumers around the world that are constantly changing. We strongly believe that working together with Nuritas will help to advance ingredient innovation in the short term.”

The project is likely to yield results in the initial round of AI analysis which will take less than a week to complete, Miller said.

Givaudan isn’t the only company to use the AI Magnifier, although Miller said he could not disclose the exact number of organizations using the technology.  

However, two years ago Nuritas signed a multi-year agreement with Japanese company Sumitomo Chemical to use the AI Magnifier to work on the challenge of producing sufficient food and sustainably to feed the increasing world population.

“We can target a number of different actions within the body where we work in partnership with Sumitomo,” Miller said, who added that the Japanese company wants to understand the specific molecular mechanisms for a network of proprietary peptides.

As for its own portfolio, Nuritas plans to increase its ingredients to 30 over the next decade.

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