The first known application of cellomics, or high content analysis (HCA) technology within the food industry, FHI’s scientific research aims to identify the most potent bioactive compounds from milk.
Cellomics combines and automates microscopy with fluorescent biomarkers and image analysis. Originally developed for the pharmaceutical industry for drug discovery, it’s revolutionising cell biology by increasing the amount, speed and quality of research and cell-based diagnostics.
Part of FHI’s broader programme to ‘mine’ milk for bioactive peptides, FHI’s team at University College Cork (UCC) and Dublin (UCD) are using HCA to analyse the functional characteristics and assess the bioavailability, efficacy and safety of bioactive milk compounds.
HCA enables the quantitative study of biological systems at the level of individual, living human cells. In a unique approach to food ingredient analysis, FHI is applying this HCA cell-based model to its metabolic health platform.
In HCA multiple fluorescent dyes are used to visualise and characterise a cell’s biochemical, physiological and morphological responses to a milk-derived bioactive. The cells are screened for specific functional effects that may translate into bioavailable, safe and effective bioactives for foods.
Dr Peter O’Brien, cellomics project leader at FHI, said: “By transferring HCA technology from the pharmaceutical industry, FHI is expanding the potential ingredient parameters that can be examined by the food industry. An exciting opportunity for ingredient manufacturers, the technique offers much better predictive results before clinical trials, saving manufacturers valuable time and money as well as significantly reducing attrition rates.
“The first trials with milk fractions are under way at our facilities at UCC and UCD. The results could eventually enable the development of ingredients to alleviate metabolic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.”
Source: Food for Health Ireland
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