Peer-to-Peer Probiotics

Recoding Food!

P2P shareable probiotics engineered to produce vitamins and designed to be used with any fermented food to increase its nutritional value.

Use Case

The end user (differing from the paying customer here) targeted is a southern Indian earning 500 to 1500 dollars a year, primarily eating single cereal based food (mainly composed of fermented food like Idli) thus having nutrient deficiencies. Initial scenario involves distribution of cooked food prepared with our enhanced probiotics through govt. subsidized canteens. Through word of mouth users can then acquire the enhanced probiotics for preparing their own food. Post-acquisition, the users will be able to share the enhanced probiotics at zero cost to themselves, creating a peer-to-peer network of enhanced probiotics users. Our strong value proposition is to increase the food nutritional content without the need for users to have any complementary assets added to their current lifestyle.

Potential

We believe that re-purposing the food microbiome in an open source way, is a game changing approach for feeding 9 billion people by 2050. First, instead of focusing on crop yields we focus on increasing food nutritional value. Second, these enhanced probiotics and the ways we make them are open-source. This encourages for building the popularity and trust for modified microorganisms. Third, when people share food, they can share these enhanced probiotics at zero cost to themselves, thus removing the need for any distribution infrastructure. Our solution first focuses on a very specific case of malnutrition, but its design makes it modular, allowing us to adapt our solution to virtually limitless cases of malnutrition and undernutrition.

Business Case

Our market segmentation led us to select as a beachhead market the food industry for low income people in southern India. The paying customer (differing from the target user here) is the Indian government (and other foundations) which spends massively into fighting malnutrition throughout the country especially through the distribution centers for food and supplements. Having such a paying customer raises the value of the Total Addressable Market to the equivalent of the Indian budget for fighting malnutrition. Our model's growth is piggybacking on the dependence on fermented food in every culture in the world. So, we can scale up our line of products to different parts of the globe customizing our product for people's diet, preparation techniques, and nutritional deficiencies.

Objectives:

  1. Tackling malnutrition by focusing on increasing the nutritional value of the food instead of focusing on crop yields alone.
  2. Empowering people and allowing individuals to be the driving force for spreading and development.
  3. Providing an alternative to the existing business models around GMOs by introducing peer-to-peer distribution.

Team Peer-to-Peer Probiotics

Paris, France

Our Team

  • Shazzad Hossain Mukit Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity, Paris/ Paris Diderot U, France
  • Juan Manuel García Arcos Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity - Université Paris Diderot, France
  • Ihab Boulas Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity - U of Paris Descartes, France
  • Prateek Garg Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaire, Université Paris Descartes, France
  • Sophie Gontier Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI) - Paris 5 Descartes, France

Our probiotics can produce enough vitamins! / Published January 8, 2016 by Sophie Gontier

Our probiotics can produce enough vitamins!

In order to evaluate how much vitamins our probiotics could produce in idli during an overnight fermentation, we made a predictive mathematical model, taking into account the growth rate of micro-organisms in the idli batter and the rate of vitamin production, as well as the lag and the stationary phase of microbial growth.
Our diagram shows the amount of vitamin A, B2 and B12 that our micro-organisms would produce in a 12 hours fermentation. According to our model, adding 10 mL of saturated culture in the idli batter before the fermentation would be enough to meet the daily intake recommended by the FAO for those three vitamins.

VIDEO - Probiotics that produce vitamins in your food / Published December 10, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

VIDEO - Probiotics that produce vitamins in your food

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqlWxx4zub8

We made a short animated video to explain the science behind our project - what are fermentation and synthetic biology, and how we intend to use both to fight malnutrition in an elegant and practical way.

Our iGEM experience / Published December 7, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

Our iGEM experience

Before coming to the TFF Challenge, we presented our project at Boston last September, for iGEM - the international competition of synthetic biology!

It was an awesome experience. We learned so, so much, and we got to meet teams and specialists from all over the world! There were more than 260 teams, with as many incredible projects!

We presented our project in front of judges and other participants, and were proud to receive a Gold Medal, and to be nominated for the Best Food and Nutrition Project, the Best Integrated Human Practices, and the Best Presentation.

It was also a great opportunity to get feedback from scientists and other people interested in our project!

If you want to know more about it, you can go to our wiki, the website where we described all our thinking process, our experiments and our results over the summer: http://2015.igem.org/Team:Paris_Bettencourt

Manufacturing: the VitaCube / Published November 29, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

Manufacturing: the VitaCube

Our project is designed for poor regions: the cheaper our product, the more people it can reach. We didn't want to build labs in India, buy media and grow our strains in expensive structures. Therefore, we had to think of a cheap solution to grow the strains in a homemade media, made of common ingredients, cheap and readily available.
We made a series of experiments to see which strain could be grown in home-made media, and we discovered that all our probiotics were growing simply in water that had been used to cook potatoes or rice. Nothing else was needed, there is enough nutrients in just this cooking water.
It means that once someone has the probiotics, they can grow them at home easily and with no cost at all.

We also thought about how to distribute those strains to the population in the first place. We could have just lyophilized the strains but our goal is to design something cheap and easy to do for the locals, using only ingredients they have access to and not time consuming.
We realised a powder wasn't the best way to distribute our strains. We found better to make portions, easy to pack, with the possibility to pack several portions together. Portions must be easy to stock.
The most efficient and ergonomic shape appeared to be a cube. Moreover, the cube will mainly be added to Idli, made of rice, so rice flour seemed to be a logical ingredient, consonant with the dish, common in India and cheap.

Little by little, we succeeded to design an easy recipe, to cook small cubes made of rice flour and water: the VitaCubes. The idea was also to be flexible to every VitaCube maker means, therefore the recipe is not very strict and can be adapted to what the people have available.

Now that we have found a convenient distribution mean, we need to be sure that it keeps our strains alive and to know how long it can be stored.
We conducted several survival test on the VitaCubes, using S. cerevisiae and L. lactis. We observed that the yeast can be stored more than one week in a VitaCube. For the bacteria L. lactis, we found that after 4 days of drying, the survival rate started to be very very low. Nevertheless, there are still around 10^5 cells in a VitaCube after one week, which is far enough to make a culture from it.

European and Indian Regulations / Published November 29, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

European and Indian Regulations

In order to evaluate the feasibility of our product’s implementation, we researched the european and indian regulations concerning the production and distribution of genetically engineered micro-organisms.
We found that the EU directive 90/219/EEC of the European Economic Community relative to the contained use of GMO would allow production of this product within the european market. This directive is enforced in each of the EU member’s national regulations.

In India, the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standard Authority in India) told us that the safety is needed to be established in order for our product to be authorized. Both Dr. A. K. Sharma from the FSSAI and Dr. Sunita Grover the Dairy Microbiology Division at the National Dairy Research Institute advised us to chose micro-organisms that were already present in the fermented foods we were targeting, which is what we did. These organisms are all in Risk Group 1 (Unlikely to cause human disease.), and have the GRAS status (Generally Considered As Safe).
We also found out that the Indian law currently doesn’t allow GM microorganisms because of the use of antibiotic markers that makes them unsafe to eat. So we'll have to remove all antibiotic markers from our strains.

According to Samir K. Brahmachari, former director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India, our product has a greater chance to be authorized if there is no more live bacteria in the final form of the dish, that is actually eaten. We checked this affirmation and found out this regulation:

‘...food stuffs...derived from Living Modified Organisms where the end product is NOT a Living Modified Organism are exempted from mandatory approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee.’
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
Notification no. S. O. 1519(E) dated 23-8- 2007 in the Gazette of India

Since the idli is steamed for 10 to 15 minutes before it is eaten, we made an experiment to assess the presence of yeasts and bacteria in the steamed idli, and found out that the steaming process effectively sterilizes the idli and eliminates the microbes present in the batter. On the photo above, we can see than nothing grew in the plates inoculated with steamed idli batter, in the 5 different media we tested - which indicates that all the micro-organisms present in the batter were killed during the steaming process.

Our Mission

We are a group of young scientists looking into innovative solutions for malnutrition with the tools of synthetic biology. We believe that a solution, to be efficient, must not be disruptive of people's traditions, and that it should be accessible to all. This is why our project is focused on fermented foods which are popular in many countries: we aim to provide people with low-cost, accessible probiotics that can be grown at home and shared freely, and that increase the vitamin and mineral contents of fermented dishes.

Our Background

Needless to say our love for food and science brought us here! You may see us as bio-punks, bio-hackers or a bunch of crazy synthetic biologists trying to bring Frankenstein version 2.0 on this earth; fact is we are just another bunch of research students who are boggled seeing the problems around us and same time trained in hard core science lab so that we also see solutions that are invisible by others! We know how tweaking with life's code one can make wonders! We are albeit dreamers but what makes us different is that we are "Doers" at the same time! That's not sci-fi for synthetic biologists, like many other problems Food or malnutrition problem is just "tweaking with genetic codes away" for us! Yes there are serious challenges and that's where we see potential solutions. At least we know where to start from and our probable destination, we believe rest of the journey will be taken care of if we are focused enough. In our box, we have diversity in background, hailing from India, Bangladesh, Spain and off course France bonded by a single identity- we all are research students at "Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity, Paris" or "CRI" commonly known as. As our team is perfect amalgamation of "East meets West", our thinking and approach to solve this grand problem reflects the same. One cannot solve a problem of this massive level without having not only the right tools also the perfect combination of minds and cultures from different backgrounds! Apart form our common background in Synthetic biology in our quiver we also have personal expertise ranging from philosophy, physics, microbiology, computational biology and policy study on science and education! Most importantly the "Entrepreneurial Spirit" we all share! That's all for now, hope to qualify the first round and discover us more there how awesome we are! May the force be with you; may the force be with us!

Our probiotics can produce enough vitamins! / Published January 8, 2016 by Sophie Gontier

Our probiotics can produce enough vitamins!

In order to evaluate how much vitamins our probiotics could produce in idli during an overnight fermentation, we made a predictive mathematical model, taking into account the growth rate of micro-organisms in the idli batter and the rate of vitamin production, as well as the lag and the stationary phase of microbial growth.
Our diagram shows the amount of vitamin A, B2 and B12 that our micro-organisms would produce in a 12 hours fermentation. According to our model, adding 10 mL of saturated culture in the idli batter before the fermentation would be enough to meet the daily intake recommended by the FAO for those three vitamins.

VIDEO - Probiotics that produce vitamins in your food / Published December 10, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

VIDEO - Probiotics that produce vitamins in your food

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqlWxx4zub8

We made a short animated video to explain the science behind our project - what are fermentation and synthetic biology, and how we intend to use both to fight malnutrition in an elegant and practical way.

Our iGEM experience / Published December 7, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

Our iGEM experience

Before coming to the TFF Challenge, we presented our project at Boston last September, for iGEM - the international competition of synthetic biology!

It was an awesome experience. We learned so, so much, and we got to meet teams and specialists from all over the world! There were more than 260 teams, with as many incredible projects!

We presented our project in front of judges and other participants, and were proud to receive a Gold Medal, and to be nominated for the Best Food and Nutrition Project, the Best Integrated Human Practices, and the Best Presentation.

It was also a great opportunity to get feedback from scientists and other people interested in our project!

If you want to know more about it, you can go to our wiki, the website where we described all our thinking process, our experiments and our results over the summer: http://2015.igem.org/Team:Paris_Bettencourt

Manufacturing: the VitaCube / Published November 29, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

Manufacturing: the VitaCube

Our project is designed for poor regions: the cheaper our product, the more people it can reach. We didn't want to build labs in India, buy media and grow our strains in expensive structures. Therefore, we had to think of a cheap solution to grow the strains in a homemade media, made of common ingredients, cheap and readily available.
We made a series of experiments to see which strain could be grown in home-made media, and we discovered that all our probiotics were growing simply in water that had been used to cook potatoes or rice. Nothing else was needed, there is enough nutrients in just this cooking water.
It means that once someone has the probiotics, they can grow them at home easily and with no cost at all.

We also thought about how to distribute those strains to the population in the first place. We could have just lyophilized the strains but our goal is to design something cheap and easy to do for the locals, using only ingredients they have access to and not time consuming.
We realised a powder wasn't the best way to distribute our strains. We found better to make portions, easy to pack, with the possibility to pack several portions together. Portions must be easy to stock.
The most efficient and ergonomic shape appeared to be a cube. Moreover, the cube will mainly be added to Idli, made of rice, so rice flour seemed to be a logical ingredient, consonant with the dish, common in India and cheap.

Little by little, we succeeded to design an easy recipe, to cook small cubes made of rice flour and water: the VitaCubes. The idea was also to be flexible to every VitaCube maker means, therefore the recipe is not very strict and can be adapted to what the people have available.

Now that we have found a convenient distribution mean, we need to be sure that it keeps our strains alive and to know how long it can be stored.
We conducted several survival test on the VitaCubes, using S. cerevisiae and L. lactis. We observed that the yeast can be stored more than one week in a VitaCube. For the bacteria L. lactis, we found that after 4 days of drying, the survival rate started to be very very low. Nevertheless, there are still around 10^5 cells in a VitaCube after one week, which is far enough to make a culture from it.

European and Indian Regulations / Published November 29, 2015 by Sophie Gontier

European and Indian Regulations

In order to evaluate the feasibility of our product’s implementation, we researched the european and indian regulations concerning the production and distribution of genetically engineered micro-organisms.
We found that the EU directive 90/219/EEC of the European Economic Community relative to the contained use of GMO would allow production of this product within the european market. This directive is enforced in each of the EU member’s national regulations.

In India, the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standard Authority in India) told us that the safety is needed to be established in order for our product to be authorized. Both Dr. A. K. Sharma from the FSSAI and Dr. Sunita Grover the Dairy Microbiology Division at the National Dairy Research Institute advised us to chose micro-organisms that were already present in the fermented foods we were targeting, which is what we did. These organisms are all in Risk Group 1 (Unlikely to cause human disease.), and have the GRAS status (Generally Considered As Safe).
We also found out that the Indian law currently doesn’t allow GM microorganisms because of the use of antibiotic markers that makes them unsafe to eat. So we'll have to remove all antibiotic markers from our strains.

According to Samir K. Brahmachari, former director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India, our product has a greater chance to be authorized if there is no more live bacteria in the final form of the dish, that is actually eaten. We checked this affirmation and found out this regulation:

‘...food stuffs...derived from Living Modified Organisms where the end product is NOT a Living Modified Organism are exempted from mandatory approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee.’
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
Notification no. S. O. 1519(E) dated 23-8- 2007 in the Gazette of India

Since the idli is steamed for 10 to 15 minutes before it is eaten, we made an experiment to assess the presence of yeasts and bacteria in the steamed idli, and found out that the steaming process effectively sterilizes the idli and eliminates the microbes present in the batter. On the photo above, we can see than nothing grew in the plates inoculated with steamed idli batter, in the 5 different media we tested - which indicates that all the micro-organisms present in the batter were killed during the steaming process.

Our Team

  • Shazzad Hossain Mukit Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity, Paris/ Paris Diderot U, France
  • Juan Manuel García Arcos Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity - Université Paris Diderot, France
  • Ihab Boulas Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity - U of Paris Descartes, France
  • Prateek Garg Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaire, Université Paris Descartes, France
  • Sophie Gontier Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI) - Paris 5 Descartes, France

Our Mission

We are a group of young scientists looking into innovative solutions for malnutrition with the tools of synthetic biology. We believe that a solution, to be efficient, must ...Read More

Our Background

Needless to say our love for food and science brought us here! You may see us as bio-punks, bio-hackers or a bunch of crazy synthetic biologists trying to ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.