Find out about the work of our project manager, Dr. Julie Le Faouder, expert in proteomics and peptidomics. In this interview, she tells us more about the exciting research projects she is carrying out on the characterisation of bioactive peptides obtained from marine by-product hydrolysates, and her role in “VIPP” scientific programme.
Julie, you are the peptidomics project manager for Abyss Ingredients. What does your job involve?
I have 15 years of experience working in biomolecular analysis, 12 of which in proteomics for the health sphere, based in a university laboratory. My job as project manager for Abyss Ingredients is to identify and characterise specific bioactive peptides obtained from marine hydrolysates.
My research focuses on characterising the bioactive peptide sequences in our Peptidyss product which play a role in the management of sleep, stress and burn-out.
This study is part of the VIPP research programme sponsored by Abyss Ingredients. This 100% Breton collaborative research project is backed and funded by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and Région Bretagne organisation. Working with expert partners and universities, academics and manufacturers makes this ambitious project particularly attractive to me. It forms part of the drive to improve the quality of Abyss products, particularly Peptidyss, recognised today as being beneficial for stress management. The first results of this venture, launched in 2019, should be available by 2021.
You talk about bioactive peptides, what is it?
Bioactive, or biologically active, peptides have been defined as “dietary components (naturally occurring or produced by enzyme action) which, in addition to their nutritional value, have a physiological effect on the body”. Protein hydrolysates and peptides obtained from fish by-products have benefits for human health and help prevent chronic diseases. Indeed, the resulting peptides can have antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-hypertensive, and anti-inflammatory properties, among others.
Bioactive Peptides (BPs) are protein fragments, usually 2–20 amino acids long, and thus they can be very heterogeneous, but the lowest common denominator is having some function which affects and benefits human health. These sequences are usually inactive when encrypted in the parent protein, and the bioactivity is displayed only on hydrolysis.
Production of BPs from by-products has also emerged as a possible means of reducing waste and recovering added-value compounds suitable for producing functional foods and supplements.
Julie, you are expert in peptidomics. Could you tell us more about this approach?
Peptidomics is a set of innovative analytical techniques which use advanced technological resources and bioinformatics.
The word “peptidomics” was first introduced in 2001 to describe the comprehensive structural characterisation of peptides present in a biological sample. The approach has since been applied to several areas of research, including food science, where it is used to identify and quantify peptides of nutritional or bio functional relevance, as well as for product authentication. Interest in bioactive peptides has increased considerably in the last 10 years.
The use of advanced analytical techniques for separation and identification of peptides is highly valuable for discovering new BPs.
Peptidomics studies are carried out using liquid chromatography together with mass spectrometry (MS). In this project, I am lucky enough to be able to perform analyses using a cutting-edge ion mobility mass spectrometer, part of the Protim proteomics platform (Irset, Rennes). The peptides are then separated according to 3 dimensions (retention time, mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) and ion mobility), for better coverage of peptides, particularly isobar peptides (same mass but different conformation). This approach is particularly appropriate for analysing complex mixes such as marine hydrolysates. We also have bioinformatics resources for de novo identification of peptides.
Can you explain how you technically proceed?
Hydrolysed food proteins are complex blends which generally contain hundreds of peptides of differing chain lengths and relative abundance, which makes it difficult to detect all the peptides. To improve the analysis, protein hydrolysates are often fractionated using different methods (ultrafiltration, hydrophobic, ion exchange or size exclusion, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)) before peptidomics analysis takes place.
So the stage prior to characterising the bioactive peptide sequences involves separating the sample of complex marine hydrolysate in order to isolate biologically active peptides, i.e. the ones that have a physiological activity in our bodies. To do this, in vitro efficacy tests are performed on the different fractions.
Then the peptides from the most active fractions are characterised using the peptidomics approach. The outcome may range from general profiling of the peptides contained in these fractions to the identification and validation of specific bioactive peptides. The second activity is what we are aiming to achieve in our VIPP project.
In what way can peptidomics revolutionise research into bioactive peptides?
For our biotech, the goal is to develop natural, marine-based health products of ever better quality and effectiveness. But we need to go further still for our customers. We need to be able to identify precisely which peptide sequences have the beneficial health effects we seek, and what their mechanisms of action are. And therefore, the peptidomics approach is the perfect complement to pre-clinical and clinical research.
Abyss Ingredients has carried out a pre-clinical study on our product Peptidyss, recognised for its anti-stress benefits, and the initial results are significant and extremely encouraging! Research is still in progress and the results will be published in due course.
In parallel, Abyss has launched this complementary study, the one I am working on, which is based on peptidomics. Its purpose is to identify and characterise the bioactive peptides in Peptidyss which are involved in regulating stress. Through it, we want to demonstrate the effectiveness of our product and enhance it with a higher concentration of bioactive peptides.
Today we are making exciting discoveries about the role of bioactive peptides and their stress management properties… but we won’t stop here! The aim is to screen other activities in our full range: sleep, skin beauty, memory, bones, and joints… watch this space!
Would you like more information about our research into bioactive peptides?
Find out about our VIPP research project and our Peptidyss pre-clinical study