How Can Chemistry Unlock Meaningful Insights in Health and Nutrition?

Partner Event hosted by Mars, Incorporated; Aaron Ciechanover, Lena Neufeld, Hagen Schroeter, Moderator: Adam Smith


Abstract

A confluence of societal, scientific, and economic trends has emerged, reemphasizing the need for renewed attention to health maintenance and primary disease prevention - as opposed to disease treatment alone - for addressing global health challenges. In this context, the potential role of nutrition and diet is receiving increased attention as arguably one of the most important lifestyle factors impacting health and primary disease prevention. However, large-scale digital health data as well as insights from personalized devices highlight the limitations of current approaches for assessing the impact of diet on health. These include limitations in nutritional epidemiology, an overreliance on using the absence of disease to define a person’s health status, inaccuracies in self-reported nutrition insights1, and a lack of precise methods for capturing data on high variability in food composition2.

Chemistry will play a key role in addressing these limitations to enable more robust, evidence-based nutritional guidance on a population and personalized level. Opportunities range from the creation of novel analytical platforms to greater understanding of the metabolic fate of nutrients in the body. Chemistry advances will also create the basis for novel sensors, which, like current continuous glucose monitors, can give objective and ongoing insights into the critical links between nutrition and health.

Another area of promise is to apply chemistry capabilities to validate and establish novel nutritional biomarkers. Using high-precision and high-throughput analytical platforms to measure nutrients, or their key metabolites, in biological specimens such as blood, urine, hair or tissues can provide objective data of dietary habits and specific nutrient intake3. This involves developing a deep chemical understanding of the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of food constituents in the human body and to identify how this may be affected by factors such as the gut microbiome.

In combination with the rapid diagnostic testing capabilities and in-home testing accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, nutritional biomarkers coupled with sensor technology can provide objective, accessible, timely and robust health and nutritional insights that can be applied to public health and personal health.

This moderated panel discussion brings together expertise in biology, biochemistry and nutrition to discuss how can chemistry be used to change approaches to nutrition and help the research community unlock meaningful insights. In the Partner Breakfast panel, hosted by Mars, Incorporated, Nobel Laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover will be joined by nutrition expert Dr. Hagen Schroeter, alongside a Lindau young scientist.

Having won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation in cells, Professor Aaron Ciechanover is a world-renowned scientist whose research has led to key insights on DNA repair and therapies for disease prevention. He is an advocate for the development of personalised medicine –treatments tailored to patients’ distinct molecular and biochemical profile—and studies both the unique opportunities and bioethical questions at stake. Dr. Hagen Schroeter is Chief Science Officer at Mars Edge a segment of Mars, Incorporated dedicated to translating scientific insights and the outcomes of health and nutrition research into evidence-based applications. Dr. Schroeter leads Mars’ scientific contributions related to cocoa flavanols and the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), a large-scale, clinical dietary intervention trial investigating the long-term impact of cocoa flavanols and multivitamins on health.


Panellists

- Lena Neufeld

- Professor Aaron Ciechanover, Distinguished Professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

- Dr. Hagen Schroeter, Chief Science Officer at Mars Edge

Moderator:

- Adam Smith, Chief Science Officer, Nobel Media

* Professor Aaron Ciechanover won the Nobel Prize in 2004 in Chemistry for characterizing the method that cells use to degrade and recycle proteins using ubiquitin. Ciechanover and his colleagues found that ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation helps control several other critical biochemical processes, including cell division, the repair of defects in DNA, and gene transcription, the process in which genes use their coded instructions to manufacture a protein. Diseases such as cystic fibrosis result when the protein-degradation system does not work normally, and researchers hoped to use the findings to develop drugs against such illnesses.

Ciechanover is a Distinguished Professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

** Dr. Hagen Schroeter is the Chief Science Officer at Mars Edge, a segment of Mars, Incorporated dedicated to translating scientific insights and the outcomes of health and nutrition research into evidence-based applications. His research interests are in human health and nutrition, personalized nutrition, and data-enabled innovation in nutrition and wellbeing.

At Mars Edge, Hagen leads biomedical investigations into the role of dietary flavanols, procyanidins and other bioactive food constituents in nutrition and primary disease prevention as well as the study of personal sensors and devices, and the application of machine learning in personalized nutrition and health.

He also leads Mars’ scientific contributions related to the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS). COSMOS, enabled by a public-private partnership, is a large-scale (21,000 participants) investigator-initiated, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical dietary intervention trial assessing the long-term impact of flavanols and multivitamins on health. Dr. Schroeter is an Adjunct Researcher at the University of California Davis Department of Nutrition.

1 Lindau young scientist (TBC)


Footnotes:

1 Archer, Edward, Michael L. Marlow, and Carl J. Lavie. "Controversy and debate: Memory-Based Methods Paper 1: the fatal flaws of food frequency questionnaires and other memory-based dietary assessment methods." Journal of Clinical epidemiology 104 (2018): 113-124.

2 Wilkinson, B. G., & Perring, M. A. (1961). Variation in mineral composition of Cox's Orange Pippin apples. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 12, 74-80.

3 National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network. Nutritional Biomarkers. DAPA Measurement Toolkit.




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