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Fact-based personalised nutrition for the young

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NUTRISHIELD (Fact-based personalised nutrition for the young)

Reporting period: 2020-05-01 to 2021-10-31

The goal of EU funded project “Fact-based personalized nutrition for the young”, in short NUTRISHIELD, is a mobile and interactive platform for guiding EU citizens towards personalized nutritional plans, to contribute to reducing diet-related health disorders.

There is a general expectation from society that food will be safe. However, what can be considered as “safe” for many people may not be for a few others. Each individual responds differently to the same food or nutrient. This is determined by genetic factors as well as by acquired factors, such as the metabolic and physiological states, the development of the microbiome, dietary habits, the amount of stress and exercise in daily life. In recent decades, the range of food choices available to consumers greatly expanded as well as the number of healthy food choice oriented-services. However, the number of people suffering from health problems related to unhealthy nutritional behavior in the EU remains on the rise, while well-intentioned generic advice on healthy food choices may confuse, and in some cases even mislead, consumers. The need for an efficient and reliable platform to personalize nutrition, based on the acquisition and scientific interpretation of genetic and acquired factors, is today evident.

NUTRISHIELD aims at creating an innovative framework to support personalized nutrition based on a comprehensive set of genetic and environmental factors. The approach will be validated through three clinical studies: one for personalized nutrition of young individuals with obesity or/and type 2 diabetes; the second focused on prematurely born infants and their lactating mothers, aiming at augmenting the nutritional value of human milk; the third exploring the relationship between nutrition and cognitive development in young individuals. In order to bring analytical capabilities to a larger number of practicing physicians, NUTRISHIELD will develop as well as different analyzer concepts for urine, breath and human milk analysis based on the Quantum Cascade Lasers technology. Leveraging both existing and newly acquired knowledge on personalized nutrition, NUTRISHIELD will finally develop a mobile application to support individual personalized food choice, building on existing apps Platemate© and Carbcounter©, developed by the NUTRISHIELD consortium.
NUTRISHIELD, an innovative project developing personalized nutrition solutions for the young, has just crossed the 36 months milestone. During the 3 years of the project, a set of important achievements have been accomplished already. NUTRISHIELD defined the many requirements for the foreseen developments and subsequent activities until the end of the project. Due to its truly multidisciplinary approach, setting of such specifications and the establishment of the collaboration framework within the project is among the most interest challenges, as researchers with different backgrounds work together towards the common goals (nutritionists and nutrition experts, medical doctors, (bio)chemists, ICT, AI and bioinformatics experts, spectroscopy experts, a laser manufacturer, software developers, legal/GDPR experts and more). The activities include (i) the full definition of the biomarker analysis for personalised nutrition, (ii) the specification of the novel analysers and, (iii) the specifications on the platform framework. Furthermore, the preliminary design of the clinical trials to follow has been achieved, this includes (iv) The definition of the validation activities and (v) the definition of the evaluation metrics.
As part of the NUTRISHIELD activities, the consortium designs and performs the analysis of the biomarkers on samples collected in the NUTRISHIELD pilot study, this includes microbiome analysis, vitamin analysis, metabolomic analysis, etc. A set of beyond state-of-the-art tools have been designed and developed, this includes: a urine analyser, a human milk analyser and a breath analyser, all using tailor-designed laser technology aiming to contribute to the field of personalized nutrition of benefit for the young and the general. An efficient printed sensor is also developed to work in tandem to the laser technology for the urine analyser. All prototypes have been developed and validated in laboratory conditions and are now ready to be used in real settings, during the three NUTRISHIELD clinical studies.
Further achievements of NUTRISHIELD include the development of the NUTRISHIELD app and platform (dashboard). The architecture of the NUTRISHIELD platform was designed based on users, components and applications identified in the course of the project. The user experience for both NUTRISHIELD app and platform has been defined by generating mock-ups, while, machine learning algorithms are being developed and soon will allow integration of biomarkers. Furthermore, NUTRISHIELD takes particular action on the personal data protection, data governance and ethical issues. Finally, within the first 18 months, NUTRISHIELD achieved several dissemination and communication activities: a total of 11 publications, participation in events and also the organisation of the 2 NUTRISHIELDs workshops on “Optimized nutrition for infants and lactating mothers” and “How do environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle impact on the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and obesity in children?” (virtual event).
Nutrishield develops a set of innovative tools and methodologies, to be combined in a holistic manner to reach the project objectives. The progress beyond the state of the art includes:
- The development of tailor-designed mid-IR emitting laser sources to be integrated in novel analysers, namely a urine analyser, a human milk analyser, a breath analyser
- The development of the aforementioned analysers that surpass the performance of existing equipment in terms of measurement speed, cost of measurements, minimum amount of samples to be measured
- The combination of the new laser-based urine analysis with low cost printed sensors for a complete and comprehensive analysis
- The design and implementation of an optimized analytical pipeline for the efficient monitoring of biomarkers
- The development of the NUTRISHIELD personalised nutrition algorithm
- The development of the NUTRISHIELD App & Platform

NUTRISHIELD sets the ground for personalised diet to become a reality in EU in the coming years. Many similar efforts have failed in the past, because they lacked a holistic methodology. NUTRISHIELD focuses on recommending young individuals, children & toddlers, on their food choices (e.g. specialised baby-food, food supplements, allergen-free foods, etc), based on scientifically sound key metrics and specific metabolites/biomarkers monitoring (through urine analysis, breath analysis, breast milk analysis, microtyping, genotype, phenotype, psychological analysis, societal & lifestyle aspects, etc). By getting the younger generation motivated, NUTRISHIELD is capitalizing on the future of personalised nutrition, based on scientific facts. NUTRISHIELD is expected to produce sound exploitable results by 2022, with a very short time-to-market (2-3 years).
Screenshot of the NUTRISHIELD app
Screenshot of the NUTRISHIELD app
Screenshot of the NUTRISHIELD app