Mayo Research into Microbiome-Nutrition Connection Lands ADM’s Backing
The Mayo Clinic’s ongoing research push into analyzing gut bacteria to develop individualized nutrition strategies took a big step forward this month with the announcement a potentially wide-ranging collaboration involving global food processor Archer Daniels Midland Co.
It’s the Rochester clinic’s second such collaboration within a year aimed at exploring the relationship between the microbial communities living within the human digestive system and optimal nutrition and wellness programs tailored to individuals.
The efforts are aimed at answering the long-perplexing question of why the same diets and wellness regimens succeed for some patients but not all for others. The answer, researchers suggest, may be found in the makeup of the different kinds of bacteria and microbes living within the digestive system.
In December, Mayo revealed it had made a venture investment in Israeli startup DayTwo Ltd., which has developed a machine-learning algorithm for predicting individualized blood glucose response to different foods based on a patient’s gut bacteria makeup and other personal parameters.
Calling its tech platform the “first-ever actionable health solution” based on microbiome analysis, the DayTwo relationship includes a research collaboration with Dr. Heidi Nelson, director of the microbiome program at Mayo’s Center for Individualized Medicine.
Then last week, Archer Daniels (NYSE: ADM) announced it, too, will be working with Nelson in a project to use analysis of the microbiome to “improve health and wellness,” initially focusing on the “maintenance of healthy body weight.”
The financial details of the collaboration were not revealed, although the Illinois-based multinational said it would include tapping ADM’s “commercialization capabilities.”
Like the DayTwo effort, the ADM collaboration will be aimed at developing “personalized nutrition models” arrived at by using sophisticated algorithms to identify changes in the makeup of the microbiome using the information to predict the health effects of various foods on individual patients.
The new project, ADM said, will seek to “predict the effects of probiotics, prebiotics and other metabolites, as well as other nutrients in microbiome shifts, for improving individual health.” Its initial phase will see the design of an algorithm for testing nutritional strategies that promote the growth of gut microbes linked to healthy body weight.
The collaboration will be expanded in the future to include unspecified additional projects which “leverage both organizations’ strengths”—Mayo providing data analysis, modeling and gut microbiome expertise, and ADM bringing “expertise in food ingredients, strain development and genomics.”