Irish biotechnology firm developing bioactive peptides for feed

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Irish biotechnology firm developing bioactive peptides for feed

Related tags: Milk, Protein

Food-grade animal feed ingredients that will help tackle inflammation, among other challenges, in farmed animals are in the pipeline at Irish start-up, Nuritas, which uses bioinformatics technology for bioactive peptide mining.

“The ingredients, which will be in both powder and soluble form, are essentially ready and we are currently in discussions with globally focused feed industry players with a view to securing further investment, scaling up production and taking them to market.

We would expect to have commercially available feed products by mid-2016,”​ said Nuritas chief scientific officer and CEO, Nora Khaldi, speaking to this publication today.

The Irish company uses artificial intelligence to data mine food to determine which peptides therein will target key receptors in both humans and animals to actively promote and manage health. 

Plant by-product source

Khaldi said the feed targeted bioactive peptides are being sourced from plant by-products and, in this way, Nuritas is aiming to deliver a cost effective and sustainable ingredient for farmed animal diets. “Producers shouldn’t have huge outlays when it comes to feedstuffs,”​ said the CEO.

The peptides, said Khaldi, have been tested in the lab to verify their activity and to establish their efficacy parameters. “We are now starting in vivo trials in animals,”​ she said.

Food contains billions of molecules but the Nuritas team, using a purpose-built algorithm, is able to narrow the field down to those that have potentially beneficial properties. The firm, said the CEO, has built up a huge catalogue of peptides against which future candidates can be referenced.

“Our proprietary database is unique has been developed through years of research and testing of active ingredients,”​ said the Nuritas founder.

Bioinformatics based research

Khaldi has a background in milk protein analysis.  For many years, she led the bioinformatics research for an industry-based consortium, Food for Health Ireland, mining bioactive peptides in bovine milk and identified novel peptides that are now utilized as functional compounds by the nutrition industry.

“Bioinformatics is the way to get to market quickly, to mine these molecules and do it in a very quick way.

Companies have been using a trial-and-error process. It is a very tedious process and it’s expensive. We can truncate that process; we can identify the potentially beneficial peptides in a relatively short time.

There is a wide range of potential therapeutic benefits from these peptides for animals including cell proliferation, anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, anti-microbial, muscle development and recovery,”​ she said.

Animals commonly suffer from inflammation which lies at the base of many diseases, local infections, and tissue damage, said Khaldi.

The company says it is aiming to provide the livestock industry, under pressure to reduce antibiotic usage, with natural alternatives for treating inflammatory related challenges in animals.

Value in waste streams

In addition to helping find the peptides, Nuritas has enzymatic technology to help extract them.

The start-up, which is about two years in operation, also works with multinational companies to help them discover potentially valuable proteins that are lost daily in the waste streams of their operations.

Nuritas has been doing some work on algal waste streams and is looking at dairy industry waste streams as well.

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