BASF Launches PeptAIde™—The World’s First AI-Identified Plant-Based Peptide To Address Sports-Related Inflammation

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Dietrich Rein, Scientific Marketing, and Mareike Kampmann, Marketing Human Nutrition of BASF SE, discuss the importance of new-to-market peptides that address inflammatory processes in exercise.


Sports Nutrition & Inflammation Recovery

Nutrition in sports plays an important function in meeting consumers’ needs associated with physical performance, exercise stress and recovery. Diet and supplementation have been positioned to support active consumers before, during and after workout. In a Consensus Statement recently released by the International Olympic Committee, the conclusion was that only a few ingredients in existing dietary supplements have good evidence to enhance performance including creatine, some buffering agents, nitrate and caffeine.

Physical exercise stress is well known to stimulate inflammatory processes. Inflammation is a natural and necessary response to exercise-induced muscle damage, primarily to facilitate tissue regeneration. However, recommendations given by sports nutrition in addressing physical recovery are only just emerging.


What is a peptide and what are the generally accepted benefits for inflammation?

Peptides are short amino acid chains either derived from protein breakdown (hydrolysis), mainly an enzymatic process, or synthesised specifically for their biological function. In human nutrition, peptides serve three functionalities: as an easily accessible source of amino acids, as a hypoallergenic source of proteins, and as biologically active peptides.

Peptides in general play an important role in human health by affecting digestive, endocrine, cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems. However, our body protects itself from dietary peptides by breaking down most of them. Still, nutritional peptides have been shown functionality—namely collagen peptides to reduce activity related joint pain and stimulate extracellular matrix synthesis, milk peptides to reduce blood pressure, or egg peptides to modulate immunity.


Active Consumers demand plant-based health solutions

An increasing number of consumers around the globe are leading more active lifestyles and taking on greater responsibility for their health. To support themselves in their endeavours, they are looking for plant-based products they can trust.

Inflammation, often perceived as pain, is a key concern of active people. It often starts with a feeling of discomfort that might turn into minor pain. It can also occur in a feeling of stiffness and soreness, preventing active people from increasing or maintaining their physical activity.

In a consumer research that was conducted, consumers were asked about the frequency of their physical activity and 69 percent of respondents indicated that they engaged in physical activities more than 3 times a week. 62 percent of these consumers agreed that recovery is a critical aspect of their post-workout plan and 67 percent of those polled would consume a dietary supplement to aid post-workout recovery. When asked what their preferred product of choice would be, they revealed that a sports bar containing plant-based peptides, delivering the benefits of managing inflammatory response to their body would be an ideal solution.


Artificial Intelligence-enabled discovery of immune active peptides for sports nutrition


Artificial Intelligence is an area of computer science which applies self-learning algorithms to emulate human-like thinking, featuring high speed, pattern recognition and pattern recall. BASF’s partner, Nuritas, developed and trained algorithms using libraries worth of information on biological networks and active molecules to build highly-accurate predictors of biological activity.

Nuritas designed precise queries for peptides affecting inflammatory processes. In a first step, a query was started with a detailed landscape based on existing rich data from the globally accessible scientific knowledge followed by human curation. Next, readily available food proteins were data mined for the presence of the active peptides and yielded brown rice as the most potent source material.

Artificial intelligence identified four peptides with potential for biological activity. BASF developed a food-process to commercial scale, liberating a good fraction of the bioactive peptides into the protein hydrolysate. As a result of this robust work, PeptAIde™ was created. Finally, it’s physiological relevance still has to be verified in silico, characterised in cell culture and tested on volunteers.


what’s different about PeptAIDe™? our emerging science supports it


Exercise-induced muscle damage stimulates important inflammation markers including cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10, and C-reactive protein (CRP). IL-6 increases rapidly during exercise whereas CRP responds much slower. Although the precise biological action of muscle-derived cytokines is still uncertain, IL-6 released from contracting muscle is important in regeneration and has both, pro- and anti-inflammatory functionality.

With PeptAIde™, we introduce a unique plant-based protein hydrolysate containing a set of peptides that specifically help modulate inflammation. To verify the biological significance, we first showed in silico the interaction of our AI identified peptides with IL-6, the Tumor Necrosis Factor-α receptor and IL-10, all relevant in physical recovery. Moreover, two standardised cell culture systems confirmed the potential of our peptides. The first included stimulated immune active macrophage cultures, the second applied primary human fibroblasts that synthesise extra cellular matrix and collagen. Both systems indicated beneficial effects.

Finally, PeptAIde™ was assessed in healthy volunteers in a single 20 g dose, 24-hour kinetic study without physical stress. The results showed that PeptAIde™ was well accepted by the volunteers. Importantly, PeptAIde™ transiently affected selected immune and inflammation markers assessed in blood plasma. Careful interpretation of the initial results indicates beneficial effects towards the support of muscle stress response.


BASf’s vision for the use of PeptAIde™ in the sports nutrition segment

Consumers understand the connection between sports, post-workout and inflammation. And they are actively looking for premium plant-based solutions to support their healthy body response.

PeptAIde™ is an ideal companion for active people—from leisure sports enthusiasts to performance athletes. It contains a unique set of plant-based peptides that have been identifyed, quantified, scientifically tested and are patent protected. It is produced from natural brown rice and its mild plant protein taste makes it an ideal fit for various sports nutrition formats. The peptide powder is versatile and can be easily used with other protein sources and typical sports nutrition ingredients.

PeptiAIde™ provides an outstanding protein hydrolysate with additional functionality, easily accessible amino acids with low allergenic potential and immune modulating potential to address the opportunity for sports nutrition. Health and nutrition companies can capture new opportunities in the fast-growing sports nutrition segment with the AI identified peptides in PeptAIde™ that have been shown to modulate inflammation markers relevant to muscle stress response after physical exercise.

With PeptAIde™, BASF provides an innovative science-based product to performance-oriented consumers, in the ongoing commitment to provide the right nutrients to the right people at the right time.


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