FHI Applies 'Cellomics' Approach to Study of Milk

Food for Health Ireland (FHI) continues to drive innovation in the functional ingredients industry by introducing the latest and most powerful ‘cellomics’ analytical technologies to its ‘Intelligent Milk Mining’ initiative. The first known application of cellomics, or high content analysis (HCA) technology within the food industry, FHI’s world-class scientific research aims to identify the most potent bioactive compounds from milk.

Cellomics combines and automates microscopy with fluorescent biomarkers and image analysis. Originally developed for the pharmaceutical industry for drug discovery, it is revolutionizing cell biology by increasing the amount, speed and quality of research and cell-based diagnostics.

Part of FHI’s broader program to ‘mine’ milk for bioactive peptides, FHI’s team at University College Cork (UCC) and Dublin (UCD) are using HCA to analyze the functional characteristics and assess the bioavailability, efficacy and safety of bioactive milk compounds. HCA enables the quantitative study of biological systems at the level of individual, living human cells. In a unique approach to food ingredient analysis, FHI is applying this HCA cell-based model to its metabolic health platform. In HCA multiple fluorescent dyes are used to visualize and characterize a cell’s biochemical, physiological and morphological responses to a milk-derived bioactive. The cells are screened for specific functional effects that may translate into bioavailable, safe and effective bioactives for foods.

Dr. Peter O’Brien, cellomics project leader at FHI, comments: “By transferring HCA technology from the pharmaceutical industry FHI is expanding the potential ingredient parameters that can be examined by the food industry. An exciting opportunity for ingredient manufacturers, the technique offers much better predictive results before clinical trials, saving manufacturers valuable time and money as well as significantly reducing attrition rates. The first trials with milk fractions are currently underway at our facilities at UCC and UCD. The results could eventually enable the development of ingredients to alleviate metabolic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.”

About Food for Health Ireland (FHI)

Food for Health Ireland (FHI) brings together the scientific and commercial expertise of Ireland’s leading research institutions and dairy processing companies: University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, Teagasc’s Moorepark Food Research Centre, Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia and the Kerry Group. Supported by EnterpriseIreland, FHI aims to identify bioactive ingredients that can be derived from milk, ensuring that any components found satisfy real consumer needs and accelerate their commercialization.

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