Precision nutrition and NCDs: RTI to drive evidence-based research with big data, AI

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Personalised nutrition can be supported by the use of AI, big data. ©Getty Images
Personalised nutrition can be supported by the use of AI, big data. ©Getty Images

Related tags personalised nutrition India AI Big data

The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is driving the development of evidence-based precision nutrition to address various forms of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

It is partnering Cornell University for this project in which algorithms, AI, digital innovations will be used.

Both RTI and Cornell University – which has a nutrition science division, will set up a coordination centre for research where nutrition for precision health will be rolled out.

“It will focus on developing algorithms that will be able to predict what would be an individual's response to specific food items and dietary patterns.

“In precision nutrition, we are going to focus on biomedical research. And when I say biomedical research, nutraceuticals becomes absolutely important,” ​said Dr. Rajiv Tandon, director of health at RTI International India.

“We are going to look at issues around artificial intelligence, digital innovations, and the research on the gut microbiome.

“We will look at the nutraceutical industry, and potentially which aspect of the nutraceuticals will actually be involved in this precision nutrition," ​he said. 

To identify the algorithm, tools such as mathematical modelling, statistical analysis, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), blockchain, and machine learning might be used.

RTI International India is a subsidiary of North Carolina-based RTI which was set up in 1958. The aim of RTI is to transform knowledge into practice at scale via strategic partnerships.

Dr. Tandon, who is also a paediatrician and neonatologist, is overseeing RTI’s health and nutrition projects in India.

He will be joining the fireside chat at Nutrify Today C-Suite Summit 2022 held on June 17 at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai.​ He will also be presenting on the topic “Emergence of Nutraceuticals as the Adjuncts to Pharmaceuticals.”

The event, organised by Nutrify Today, seeks to promote nutraceutical business engagement between companies from India, Asia, and USA, and NutraIngredients-Asia is the exclusive international digital media partner.

Why precision nutrition

Precision nutrition is an area of focus for RTI as nutrition does not work in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ manner, as seen from the ineffectiveness of certain nutrition policies.

“Over the past decades, we see nutrition related diseases continuously on the rise. On one side, we have issues around undernutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia, and so on and so forth, which is reaching a point of what we call severe acute malnutrition in children and adults.

“On the other side, we have non communicable disease (NCDs) coming through issues around nutrition, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, malignancies, and so on and so forth,” ​Dr. Tandon explained.

“If you are a diabetic, if you are a male, if you are at a certain age, and if you are from a certain caste, creed, religion, area of the world, you will be advised certain aspects of nutrition which will have to be focused and precision. Within that, the role of nutraceuticals comes in.”

Aside from health and nutrition, RTI also specialises in the research of climate change, gender, and water sanitation etc.

Industry, policy engagement

Dr Tandon hopes that RTI will help to bridge the gap between the nutraceutical industry, research, and policy advocacy.

“I think the nutraceuticals sector has not grown to the level that they could be. We are talking about a US$100 billion market. So that's where RTI will come in and possibly become the catalyst and the facilitator of a roadmap which is evidence-based to improve health and nutrition,”​ he said.

Specifically, RTI will be able to help the industry by providing research, clinical trials capabilities, as well as policy advocacy.

Current projects

Currently, the RTI is researching various health and nutrition topics.

They include therapeutic feeding in children with severe acute malnutrition, nutraceuticals for preventing or treating cancers, and the role of nutraceuticals in diabetes.

In terms of cancer related research, it is studying oral and gut cancers.

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