“At Novozymes OneHealth, our mission is to address some of the most pressing health challenges related to modern lifestyle by developing verifiable biology-based solutions,” Dr. Delphine Saulnier, health science lead of the protective health venture at Novozymes OneHealth, told NutraIngredients-USA.
“One of those big challenges is the impact of pollutants and harmful compounds on our health. The health risk of daily exposure to toxic metals, lead in particular, is a challenge that we hope to address.”
Through a clinical trial conducted at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, the project will apply precise exposome sequencing to assess the efficacy of L. plantarum DSM 33464 – trademarked as SmartGuard – in reducing blood lead levels in healthy young women in Mexico.
Mapping harmful compound exposure
To provide the detailed temporal mapping of lead and a range of other contaminants, LinusBio’s environmental biodynamics platform reconstructs exposure to toxic substances from a single strand of hair, generating data akin to several hundred liquid biopsies.
“Traditional bio samples, such as blood, provide a snapshot of data for a specific collection time point, whereas the platform from LinusBio measures thousands of biochemical features at hundreds of time points for a more complete analysis of the subject’s molecular history – providing a ‘molecular video’ as opposed to a single frame snapshot,” Saulnier said.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated one million people worldwide die from lead poisoning each year, and low-level exposure has been associated with lifelong anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and reproductive dysfunction. In children, it can have permanent adverse effects on brain and nervous system development.
“Currently, there are no effective methods to eliminate lead once it has entered the body,” said Dr. Manish Arora, co-founder and CEO at LinusBio. “This joint project combines innovative technology and a fresh approach that can offer a major advance in solving the longstanding problem of lead exposure.”
The complex exposome data will then be combined with Novozymes’ Data Science platform to feed the company’s pipeline of “one-in-a-trillion verifiable biology-based solutions”.
OneHealth and SmartGuard
Novozymes introduced its health unit OneHealth in 2018, which recently debuted its suite of probiotic, postbiotic and enzyme-based products in the US. These include Pylopass to flush Helicobacter pylori bacteria from the gut, ProBiobrain to support mental wellness and BioFresh enzymes to neutralize bad breath and reduce oral film. SmartGuard, currently available to healthcare practitioners in the US, will launch more broadly to the global market once health benefits have been clinically proven.
Its path to development started over ten years ago with the isolation of the L. plantarum DSM 33464 strain from a plant in China. Subsequent screening for heavy metals binding and high-resolution microscopy images revealed the probiotic’s attraction to lead.
“The primary mode of action is a specific binding of lead to the bacteria cell wall and a sequestration of the metal into the SmartGuard cells,” Saulnier explained. In vitro studies have also shown that it is not binding to essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
The study in Mexico complements another ongoing parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial in China exploring the probiotic’s effects in a test group of 124 children over a 24-week test period.
“SmartGuard is being evaluated for its effect on both general well-being of children and on detectable blood lead levels from daily exposures which fall below the threshold for diagnosis of lead poisoning (i.e., below blood lead levels that would be clinically treated by chelation therapy),” Saulnier explained. She adds that the probiotic supplement is not intended to be used as an alternative to medical treatment for diagnosed lead poisoning.