The ‘Probiota Pioneer’ diversifying microbiome testing

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages - DNA Helix / byakkaya
GettyImages - DNA Helix / byakkaya

Related tags microbiome Research Gut health Technology

RemAnalytics has become a trailblazer in microbiome testing, setting itself apart by its ability to precisely quantify relative abundances at the strain level.

The startup that developed a proprietary Advanced Testing for Genetic Composition (ATGC) technological platform, has been selected by NutraIngredients' Editorial team as a ‘Probiota Pioneer’​, winning the opportunity to present on stage at Probiota in Milan​ in February next year. 

Initially delving into mitochondrial mutations during their Ph.D. research, founders Dr. Paulo Refinetti and Prof. Stephan Morgenthaler soon recognised the emerging field of microbiome analysis and the impending gap in evaluation. 

They pivoted their technology towards developing a quantitative microbiome assessment, Refinetti explains to NutraIngredients: “Microbiome testing was still very much of an emerging technology, and we realised that there was going to be a gap in the measurement tools available to the microbiome field.

“This led us to shift the application of our technology from mitochondrial mutations to build measurement tools that would be quantitative for the microbiome.

“Now, the ATGC platform enables the creation of tailored tests for various microbiome targets, including bacteria, fungi, and archaea.

“These tests can be customised to operate within any microbiome environment or matrix, such as the human gut, vagina, mouth, fermented foods, or mixed probiotics.

“Our analytical platform offers an advanced method of DNA analysis, and its unique approach is a useful instrument to assess microbiome composition, food authenticity, and food safety.” 

ATGC Technology​ 

The ATGC technology combines cycling temperature capillary electrophoresis (CTCE), a technique for separating DNA molecules based on their physical properties, with bioinformatics (technology designed to collect, store, analyse, and disseminate biological data and information) and statistical modelling, Refinetti explains. 

The concept is that the technology is flexible, offering an adaptable protocol depending on the specific questions to be answered.

"After an initial general mapping of microorganisms in the samples, we can zoom in to the area of interest, such as a specific family of bacteria and their strains," notes Refinetti. 

"This technology accurately maps the relationship between a product and consumers' microbiomes, identifying key elements for product optimisation, the development of companion diagnostics, and various applications.”

The ATGC platform is now being applied to human samples for developing gut microbiome tests, as RemAnalytics acknowledges the diverse subpopulations of people with differing microbiome compositions.

Accurate microtyping is essential for personalised treatments, Refinetti explains, allowing the identification of population segments more susceptible to benefiting from specific probiotics, prebiotics, or other active ingredients. 

However, Refinetti explains that RemAnalytics still faces obstacles in the scientific community's reluctance to move away from next-generation sequencing as a dominant tool in microbiome research: “Research departments are very reluctant to move away from next generation sequencing, and while it is a wonderful tool, I'm hoping to see the development of more specialised tests that focus on specific targets in the microbiome, which is something that needs to happen if we are to move away from generic microbiome analysis.”

"Trust is good, but a test is better," he asserts, explaining that consumer trust in microbiome products, ranging from probiotics to testing services, is often undermined by inconsistencies and a lack of standardised measures.

Partnering for Solutions

The journey of RemAnalytics has not been without obstacles, Refinetti explains, identifying building consumer-facing products as a primary challenge.

While the company possesses a powerful technology platform, transforming it into solutions that consumers want to buy has been a hurdle.

"We're a technology platform, which is great because we can do a bit of everything, but on the other hand, no one wants to buy just the technology. People want to buy solutions," Refinetti notes. 

The solution, according to him, lies in strategic partnerships with companies to jointly develop consumer-facing products.

And looking forward to the Probiota event, Refinetti explains: “We're trying to put together our next product now together with some partners which I hope I'll be able to announce the launch of at Probiota. 

“We're taking the opportunity to use the platform as a launch base for what we hope to be our next new product.”

Probiota 2024 will be held in Milan from 7th​ – 9th​ February, and tickets are available for the leading microbiome industry event here​. 

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