Sumitomo Chemical and Nuritas align on bioactive peptides discovery using artificial intelligence

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/gorodenkoff
© GettyImages/gorodenkoff

Related tags peptides antibiotic alternative artificial intelligence

Ireland based Nuritas has signed a multi-year partnership with Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd in relation to the discovery of bioactive peptides.

The alliance will see the Irish biotech company deploy its technology platform, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and genomics to predict, unlock, and validate peptides from plant sources. Sumitomo will use its scientific and applications expertise to validate the efficacy of the new discoveries within field tests and then commercialize the ensuing products globally.

Neil Foster, head of strategic partnerships at Nuritas, told us: “In Sumitomo we see a global player in animal and human health and nutrition who shares the highest possible scientific standards.”

Irish government agency, Enterprise Ireland, has been assisting the company in its efforts to develop the Japanese and Asian markets, including this partnership with Sumitomo.    

Peptides to improve human and animal health

Nuritas was founded in 2014 by mathematician and bioinformatician, Dr Nora Khaldi, and she took on the role of CEO last year. Its proprietary discovery platform targets the discovery of peptides to improve both human and animal health.

The software has already been proven in a human health context. 

In 2019, the company announced a partnership with Stonehaven Incubate to use the technology to bring to market new animal health ingredients, with Nuritas telling FeedNavigator back then that two example areas of animal health the partnership could explore were rheumatology and antibiotic alternatives, amongst several others. 

Explaining how Nuritas’ discovery platform works, the company said: “In nature, there is an abundance of bioactive peptides with a vast array of biological functions. This makes it virtually impossible to identify those that may be useful for a specific health need, which is why we use AI to predict and identify those unique bioactive peptides before finally extracting them from natural plant sources.”

Without the use of AI, the only way of isolating peptides with specific health functionality is to “conduct random screening until you get a hit”​ – an approach the company likens to “throwing millions of keys at a single lock in the hope of finding one that works”​. 

“We are taking away all of that randomness, luck and fortune and using AI to find one specific bioactive peptide, extract it and unlock it. AI is the key that allows you to open the door into nature and its bountiful health benefitting harvest.”

Its proprietary software combined with a scaling facility means Nuritas can offer an “end-to-end computer to production”​ process for extracting and scaling peptides, with predictions validated via testing in the company’s in-house wet lab. 

“The results can then be fed back into the algorithm and the process started all over again, resulting in an outcome that is a closer match than the previous attempt - it’s all about making predictions and testing whether they are wrong or right,” ​it added. 

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