Dispatches from Microbiota 2011

Nutrigenetics “was clearly a too-focused approach”, says nutrigenomicist

By Shane Starling from Paris

- Last updated on GMT

Studying the inter-relation between nutritional inputs and genetics has expanded quickly from five or 10 human genes to five or ten thousand or more. But is that a useful leap?

For sure says Dr Sebastien Massart, business development manager at Belgian-based DNA Vision, especially when it comes to microbiota and gut flora.

“Our work offers a new way of studying this microbiota with this technological switch you have with all these next generation sequencing technologies,”​ he said from this week’s Nutrigenomics conference in Paris.

“To be able to analyse the real microbiota without focusing on specific genus or specific phyla.”

“For example in nutrigenetics for genome analysis; to see the relation between some genes – 5, 10 genes and nutrition – this was clearly a too-focused approach because the conclusions were not robust.”

“We have the capacity to understand the whole pictures of the microbiota, the genome and its relation to nutrition. The scientific community is now writing the catalogue, the dictionary, the encyclopedia, of all the genes present in the microflora and all the genes present in the genome.”

Clusterised nutrition

From this dictionary ‘sentences’​are being formed, and those sentences translate into nutritional commodities that will fill the supermarkets and food vendors of tomorrow.

“I believe in clusterised nutrition. You will have a cluster of people for which a certain kind of food is better than other. This is for the food selection but also for the biomarker itself, for the pathologies.”

“For the food industry today the key application is for the R&D department. They have to think that the ingredient they are developing today will be marketed tomorrow in a world where this information will be available. They have to be already curious.”

Related topics: Formulation & Science