Food for Health Ireland studies metabolic profile of dairy

June 8, 2010

Food for Health Ireland (FHI) has expanded its portfolio of analytical tools with the integration of a ‘metabolomics’ team at University College Dublin (UCD). Applying this technique to the dairy industry will allow the team to identify changes in a cell’s metabolic profile following treatment with milk fractions. By understanding their precise mechanism of action, FHI aims to strengthen nutritional claims of future functional ingredients.

Part of FHI’s established ‘Intelligent Milk Mining’ program, metabolomics involves the analysis of the unique chemical fingerprints that certain cellular processes leave behind in biological samples. The products of metabolism are measured at a specific time under set environmental conditions, providing a snapshot of the physiology of the cell. Using a combined approach of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), the team at UCD can simultaneously identify and measure hundreds of small-molecule metabolites in one sample.

“Metabolomics allows us to examine how milk compounds can alter the metabolism,” said Lorraine Brennan, Project Leader for FHI at UCD. “Through the precise, multivariate analysis of the metabolite environment, we can achieve a broader understanding of the exact processes taking place following treatment with milk fractions. Additionally, it enables us to link milk-derived bioactives into metabolic pathways, substantiating future health claims with essential physiological data. Work has commenced at UCD and we expect metabolomics will play a key role in FHI’s work to mine commercially viable bioactives from milk.”

Intelligent Milk Mining program