Here’s a preview of his insights into advanced DNA techniques, helping the industry screen for new actives to demonstrate efficacy and enable it to identify and characterise the microbiome.
What are the main claims that products/ingredients can make relating to the microbiome?
This field is still in its infancy and a lot of research is going into it. Claims could support a large range of products where a good or bad microbiome ecosystem could have an impact.
The most obvious of these range from mouthwash or toothpaste to improve gum health; deodorants to reduce bad odour; and shampoo for reduced dandruff or skin irritation.
However, current research is diversifying and looking at vaginal hygiene products and moisturising or anti-ageing cream spread on the skin.
Away from the personal care industry, in the food industry, understanding the biodiversity of the microbiome in cheese could become important in differentiating new tastes or textures.
Also, a better understanding of how food in general and processed food in particular have a positive impact on the gut microbiome is becoming of significant interest in this industry.
What are the current available testing techniques for microbiome claims? How effective and reliable are these?
The analysis of the microbiome ecosystem is a complex area. Relying on biological culture is slow and unreliable as some microbes cannot be cultivated.
The rise of DNA Next Generation Sequencing has brought the ability to sequence large amounts of DNA from any type of sample, enabling the identification of all species and strains of microbiomes in a sample, be it skin, mouth swab or vaginal screen.
The DNA analysis is very effective, exhaustive and reliable; however, it is still a significative investment. The correlation of microbiome profiles with specific health claims still requires ‘clinical trials’ to be carried out in order to demonstrate their scientific validity.
What areas is the industry currently lacking testing techniques for, if any, when it comes to microbiome claims? Do you think we’ll see innovation in this area?
Again, the focus on the microbiome is very recent and in many cases needs to be proven. We will definitely see innovation in that area as many industries are now investing in this field to make sure the competitor does not take it all in case there is something to gain.
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