While the bioinformatics revolution is well under way in life sciences, it is slowly making progress into the consumer sector, with companies now adopting the same approach to improve a range of consumer products. Whether in the fast moving consumer goods sector and attempts to improve beauty products, or work in the food sector, right through to improving the beer we drink, bioinformatics is now being used by many companies in products we routinely have in our homes.
Although originally developed to cope with biological data in drug discovery and plant breeding, bioinformatics actually has a much wider range of applications. The chances are that you have any number of products in your home right now that were developed using the same approach used for drugs. You may even be wearing them in the form of cosmetics, washing your clothes with them, or using them each morning as deodorants, shampoos and conditioner.
As bioinformatics has come of age, helped along greatly by the reduced cost in producing the data that it relies on, there has been an explosion in its use. The Eagle/Unilever case study around deodorant research is well-known, but other major global brands are now actively adopting similar techniques in order to improve their product in the market and give them an edge over their competitors. Beer, petfood, toothpaste, detergents, suncreams, and a whole host of food products are now subject to intense bioinformatics analysis to see whether any aspect of them can be improved simply by understanding more about how the genetics of their ingredients, bioproduction processes, or the people consuming them, can impact on their performance.
The science behind this is easy to adapt to these new applications because, fundamentally, all life is driven by DNA. The bioinformatics techniques involved do not particularly mind what plant, animal, or bacteria that the DNA came from, as the analysis is largely the same in each case. Therefore any industry which uses plant or animal products as an ingredient or component of its product, or uses bacteria or fungi to process their product, or makes a product intended to be consumed by or come into contact with humans, plants, animals or any other living organism, is a potential candidate for bioinformatics-based improvement.
Eagle has recognised this diversity in the bioinformatics market since the very beginning, and we have actively sought out opportunities to find new and exciting applications of the technology. We have built up serious expertise in all manner of areas outside traditional pharmaceutical research, with plant and microbial studies being a particular strength. We’re excited about the future of these applications in consumer goods, food, and beyond, simply because we’re already in there working on real products with real multinationals today, and can clearly see the potential and the huge benefits of adopting these approaches.