Genome maps out nutritional promised land

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chr hansen, Nutrition

The convergence of technologies that will facilitate the
nutritional promised land that nutrigenomics promises is moving
closer to reality, according to Danish probiotics specialist Chr
Hansen.

The fact the human genome has been mapped and will soon be commercially available to consumers, was a significant advance that carried huge potential for nutritional improvement, the executive vice president of Chr Hansen's newly created Health and Nutrition division, Henrik Dalboge, told NutraIngredients.com. Although, like space flight, initial pricing of personal genomes will be prohibitively expensive for all but the very wealthiest members of societ, Dalboge said in 10-20 years personal genomes may be affordable, allowing consumers to use the information to tailor their diet accordingly. Better health, longer life and disease prevention are potential benefits. Investment ​ Coupled with computing device advances that could allow consumers to download genomes into mobile phones or some other personal computing device and then be employed in retail outlets, Chr Hansen sees a bright future in the area and is investing accordingly. More than seven per cent of its innovation investment is spent on nutrigenomics, a fact that represents its increased interest in the nutritional potential of the 100s of probiotic strains it has researched to varying degrees. Traditionally probiotics have been used in a more functional food manufacturing sense such as starter cultures in cheese making. "Chr Hansen has been shifting towards nutrition for some time and there was a certain culmination of that in September when the Health and Nutrition centre was established,"​ Dalboge said. "It's a good time to be in probiotics as there is so much interest in it right now but we have been moving this way for some time and continue to devote many R&D resources to the area." ​He said the Health and Nutrition division had leveraged its Cultures and Enzymes business and while food supplements and pharmaceuticals were the division's focus, functional foods in most categories were increasingly important in its activities. The company was exploring probiotics health potential beyond its commonly known and extolled immunity and gut health benefits. Dalboge said women's health was a particular area of interest and the company had engaged in research into strains that had shown potential to benefit problems such as bacterial vaginosis. While probiotics had been slow to take off in the US, the market was beginning to surge driven by companies like Danone which had invested heavily in the market and notched impressive sales of close to $500m per year in yoghurts and yoghurt drinks in little more than three years. Europe was quicker to accept the health proposition of probiotics, where they have had a strong presence in many markets for the better part of a decade.

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