Driving Industries Forward with Public Private Partnerships: Arla Food Ingredients and Danone

Thema:
Early metabolic health
17 March 2022

Can one research project drive entire industries forward? It can when the right industry players come together with a common goal, and engage in pre-competitive research. In a Public/Private Partnership (PPP) with Arla Food Ingredients and Danone, TNO generated an in silico screening tool that predicts markers that relate to beneficial health effects of immune interventions. Good for the industry, good for TNO, and certainly good for babies’ health.

Together for a common goal

Nearly every development in infant formulas and food aims to get closer to the health benefits of breast milk. But how can developers prove the health benefits of their products without first finding a way to accurately measure them?

"We developed an in silico model, with help from the data and insights that only industry players like Arla and Danone can provide." - Nicolette Pouw, TNO

‘The Early Life PPP with Arla Food Ingredients (AFI) and Danone aimed to develop guidance on how to identify the immune functions that need to be considered when assessing the safety and efficacy of early life immune interventions and exposure,’ says Nicolette Pouw, Senior Business Development Manager, Early Life, at TNO. ‘We developed an in silico model, with help from the data and insights that only industry players like Arla and Danone can provide.’

Removing obstacles for collaboration

The PPP also offered AFI a unique opportunity. ‘Our contracted research usually focuses on specific needs,’ says Anne Staudt Kvistgaard, Head of Pediatric Nutrition at AFI. ‘We don’t often get the opportunity to work on the larger issues that impact the entire industry.’

Anne says that PPPs can also make collaboration more targeted. ‘When industry players come together, it can all be a bit sensitive. We typically discuss high-level concerns, and are cautious about revealing too much about our own work prior to publication. The PPP offered us a chance to work on a targeted, shared challenge. And with TNO as the “common denominator”, we felt freer to share our knowledge, insights and data. With TNO’s skilled brains and competencies, we put the science first and focused solely on healthier babies.

‘TNO kept things organised and focused, so we could work with purpose to reach our goals. Every step of the collaboration – from the first contract to the end result – was executed professionally and effectively.

‘TNO also makes all participants feel comfortable,’ Anne continues. ‘They acknowledge the value each partner adds. TNO’s vast experience working with regulatory bodies also came in handy. They played a valuable role in translating and aligning the available investigations that could add value to the assessment of new innovations.’

"This in silico model compounds the power of several types of clinical data by uncovering patterns, relationships and causal effects that individual trials can’t show." - Anne Staudt Kvistgaard, AFI

When every data point counts

Data was crucial to making the in silico model effective. ‘Individual clinical trials can tell us something, but combining data from multiple clinical trials can tell us a lot more,’ Anne explains. ‘The PPP got us closer to reducing the use of animal models, which can’t effectively tell us about the immune response in human infants. This in silico model compounds the power of several types of clinical data by uncovering patterns, relationships and causal effects that individual trials can’t show. TNO then helped us interpret the results and extract valuable insights.’

Moving forward

In a new PPP called ‘Fontanelle’, TNO will combine its in vitro, ex vivo and in silico models to gain a 360-degree view of the infant gastrointestinal tract and the impact of interventions. ‘By combining our inTESTine and iScreen models with the in silico model we developed in the PPP, we’ll get a more complete view of the microbiome, physiology, barriers and immune responses in the infant gut,’ Nicolette explains. ‘Thanks in part to the work started in the previous PPP, we’ll gain better understanding of infant gut health than ever before.’

Read more about TNO Early Life.

Do you want to know more about joining a Public/Private Partnership with TNO? Contact Nicolette Pouw.

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First 1000 days

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A child's first 1,000 days make all the difference for later. Find out what we’re doing to improve children's health at an early stage.