Title: Fact-based personalized nutrition for the young (NUTRISHIELD)
Project number: H2020-SFS-2018-2020, 818110
Duration: November 2018 - October 2022
Researchers: Joris Meurs, Evaggelia Sakkoula, Simona M. Cristescu
Cost estimate: 8.6 M€
Funding: EU Horizon 2020
Project partners: ALPES LASERS SA ALPES, Netcompany-Intrasoft, FONDATION INSTITUT SUISSE DES VITAMINES-ISV SVI, SWEET BEE SWB, TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET WIEN TUW, ARGOS MESSTECHNIK GMBH ARGOS, QUANTARED TECHNOLOGIES GMBH QRT, CSEM, HAROKOPIO UNIVERSITY HUA, OSPEDALE SAN RAFFAELE SRL OSR, REM Analytics, VERTOYO LIMITED VER, CRANFIELD UNIVERSITY CU, FUNDACION PARA LA INVESTIGACION DEL HOSPITAL UNIVERSITARIO LA FE DE LA COMUNIDAD VALENCIANA HULAFE, VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT BRUSSEL VUB - Research Group on Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS)
More information: https://nutrishield-project.eu/
NUTRISHIELD - “Fact-based personalised nutrition for the young” is a recently funded EU project within an international consortium of 16 partners supported by H2020-SFS-2018-2020 (EU funding of about 7200k euros, from which 488k for our group).
NUTRISHIELD aims at creating a personalised platform for the young. The platform will consist of novel methods & techniques, which analyse a wide range of biomarkers related to nutrition and health disorders. Based on findings, the platform then uses ICT, by expanding existing nutrition assistive mobile apps, in order to provide feedback and steering people towards a better nutrition. This takes into account the way each person responds to different nutrients and food types, by also analysing phenotype, genome expression, microbiome composition, health condition, mental & psychological condition, as well as financial capabilities for procuring food.
We shall perform research in Clinical Study III aiming to assess the (co)relation between the biomarkers from exhaled breath and dietary quality (via the nutritional status measures conducted at Donders Institute within the ERDF-funded project BriteN, dr. E. Aaarts) for children with various diet habits and cognitive abilities. The data to be processed include breath analysis and the nutritional status of the individuals to be defined by (i) a composite score of adherence to the Dutch healthy diet index (derived from a Food Frequency Questionnaire, FFQ) and (ii) visceral adipose tissue (measured with abdominal MRI), as well as (iii) BMI resulted from anthropometric measures.
Our group is also involved in the validation of a spectrometer for detection of methane, hydrogen and cyanide in breath using interband cascade lasers. The work includes collaboration with Alpes Lasers (Neuchatel, Switzerland) and Argos Med, Karlsruhe (Germany).
Results in brief
Developing personalised diets to combat obesity and diabetes
A new nutrition platform aims to make diet recommendations for individuals a reality.
With the wide variety of food choices available today, it can be difficult for individuals to know what’s best for them to eat. Food choices, particularly in early life, can have a significant impact on the development of diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Personalised nutrition is an emerging field that tailors dietary recommendations to an individual’s unique genetic, metabolic, microbiomic and lifestyle factors. In the EU-funded NUTRISHIELD project, researchers developed an innovative framework to help people make better nutrition choices, including a platform based on a novel algorithm. NUTRISHIELD focused on young populations with obesity and/or diabetes, mothers of premature infants and primary schoolchildren. “In the future, the NUTRISHIELD algorithm could provide personalised nutritional advice based on the specific genomic and gut microbiome profile of each single child,” explains Miltos Vasileiadis, business developer at Alpes Lasers and principal investigator on the NUTRISHIELD project. “This will enhance the personalised dimension of the approach and will enhance the chances of a therapeutic effect,” he adds.
Innovative clinical trials
The NUTRISHIELD project ran a series of experimental evaluations, to gather data needed to create the platform. In the first clinical study, the team collected data from three cohorts of children with obesity and/or diabetes. They analysed urine, faeces and blood samples to reveal microbiome composition and the degree of gut inflammation – biomarkers of gut barrier integrity. The second study focused on lactating mothers and their premature infants, to investigate the effect of maternal nutrition on human milk composition and how this affects health outcomes of prematurely born babies. “Sample analysis was performed employing state-of-the-art laboratory techniques in combination with newly developed, laser-based tools,” says Vasileiadis. “One of the success stories of the present project is the use of infrared laser spectroscopy for the quantification of specific protein subfractions present in human milk.” A third study explored the connection between nutrition, gut metabolism and the neural development of spatial cognition in primary schoolchildren. This involved novel tools such as breath analysis, which can provide detailed information on gut metabolism.
Providing nutritional advice
The team’s nutritionist analysed the diet of diabetic and obese children, and using the NUTRISHIELD approach developed a personalised diet to enhance dietary habits that promote a healthy gut microbiome. The project also shed light on how certain vitamins evolve during the first month after birth, possibly relating to infant needs and the establishment of metabolic capabilities. Another key development was to build a profile of Bifidobacterium, a key gut microbe, among preterm and control babies. “We clearly identified trends for what constitutes a ‘healthy Bifidobacterium balance’ in newborns at each phase of their early life,” notes Vasileiadis.
Developing the NUTRISHIELD platform
Through the project, the team created a NUTRISHIELD platform to offer personalised nutrition advice, consisting of three interconnected tools. The NUTRISHIELD dashboard gathers and analyses nutritional information with an algorithm and is intended for nutritionists and other health professionals. The NUTRISHIELD Clinical Trial App (CTA) is a tailored tool used by health professionals to gather all the necessary information from the patients, mainly in the form of questionnaires. The NUTRISHIELD app can be run on a smartphone and engages the user in following the dietary plan. “This is an efficient and fun way to deliver a personalised dietary plan to a child,” says Vasileiadis.