North East company Powerhouse Biologics Ltd is founded on the knowledge of experts at Newcastle University. Using the latest technology they aim to analyse an individual’s genetic make-up to determine which foods they should eat to get the most benefit.
The setting up of the ground-breaking personalised nutrition and health care services has been kick-started with a £100,000 investment by Northstar Ventures’ Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund.
Set up by Professor Mark Birch-Machin and Dr Georg Lietz, the company has developed out of their cutting-edge research at Newcastle University. Professor Birch-Machin says: “We are aiming to offer testing kits which will allow people to find out which antioxidants in their diet would successfully boost their body’s own cells. This means we will be able to advise them what they would most benefit from eating.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be on the way to providing a personalised dietary service which means you really will be eating for optimum health.”
Antioxidants, found in a wide variety of food ranging from asparagus to walnuts, have the ability to prevent damage to the DNA inside the mitochondria – the powerhouse – of the cells.
Tissues in the body are exposed to stress both externally from environmental factors such as sunlight and pollution, and internally from the diet including alcohol, all of which can produce free radicals, highly damaging to our cells. To prevent free radical damage, the body uses a defence system of antioxidants provided from our diet.
Antioxidants are intimately involved in the prevention of cell damage – and by optimising the performance of the cells we can help overcome our stressful lifestyles.
However, genetic differences in individuals mean that not everyone is able to efficiently process certain antioxidants to prevent this damage.
Powerhouse Biologics are in the first stages of developing a testing kit which can analyse someone’s genetic differences and based on that finding offer a bespoke dietary advice service.
Dr Lietz explains: “Powerhouse Biologics combines our expertise in mitochondria and nutrition and genetic variation. It’s the first time these two areas have come together to produce such a test. We know this works in the lab and now the investment from Northstar Ventures Finance means we will be able to take the first step in developing it.”
“Moving forward we need further investment to produce a prototype of our testing kit which we ultimately aim to get onto the shelves of the high street.”
Richard Exley from Northstar Ventures added, “Powerhouse Biologics has an exciting opportunity at the interface between genomics, nutrition and health. Mark and Georg now have the ability to advance their company to the next level, and get their products into the market place.”
Powerhouse Biologics combines two previously unrelated world-beating technologies; measuring free radical damage to cells, and identifying genetic variations in relation to diet. The company will be aiming products at both the consumer and corporate market. Within two years, they intend to offer testing kits in retail outlets and customised dietary anti-oxidant advice for individuals, and they will offer testing of the efficiency of antioxidants in food and drinks for large commercial companies.
Offering an expert consultancy and co-development of potent antioxidants Powerhouse Biologics are already working with several companies in the health care, and nutrition industries.
Antioxidants are found in a variety of antioxidant-rich foods including:
Carotenoids – Varieties of dark orange, yellow, red, and green vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, red and yellow peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and mangoes.
Vitamin C – Citrus fruits and their juices, berries, dark green vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, watercress, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, tomato juice, pineapple, cantaloupe, papaya and mangos.
Vitamin E – Vegetable oils such as olive, soybean, corn, nuts, seeds, whole grains, wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, oatmeal, soybeans, sweet potatoes, legumes (beans, lentils, split peas) and dark leafy green vegetables.
Selenium – Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, eggs, dairy products, garlic, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains and most vegetables.
Polyphenols – most legumes; fruits such as apples, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries; and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, celery, onion and parsley are rich in polyphenols. Red wine, chocolate, white tea, green tea, olive oil and many grains are also sources.
Curcumin – found in the popular Indian spice turmeric and used in curries.
published on: 8th December 2011
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- 5th in the UK for employability of its graduates
- 10th in the UK for student satisfaction
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- We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing and Health, Sustainability, and Social Renewal
- Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011