Validating Natural Products with Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics

June 8, 2016  |  By Adam Grant, Cory Grand, PhD, and Bret Stephens, PhD

Natural products are reported to have a wide range of benefits.  However, even when a customer feels healthier from taking them, it is not always clear how or why the products are working.  Understanding the benefits of a product in terms of its biological effect drives excitement and acceptance among new and existing customers.  Wasatch Scientific uses next-generation sequencing technologies and proprietary bioinformatic approaches to understand how a product is exerting its effect at the molecular level. Even in cases where supplement’s primary biologic benefit is understood, Wasatch Scientific can discover molecular evidence of additional product benefits.  Our clients have revitalized products by releasing new findings regarding additional health benefits they confer.

What are Next Generation Sequencing Technologies?

There are a number next generation sequencing techniques that can be used to understand how a natural product is having an effect at a molecular level.  The two most common methods are: RNA-Seq, and Chip-seq.  RNA-seq provides information on what genes are being transcribed.  Chip-seq identifies how histones or transcription factors are interacting with DNA, controlling gene expression.  Here at Wasatch we have deep experience with generating and analyzing data from any of these methods.

For an overview of next-generation sequencing, see the following two articles:

Sequencing technologies — the next generation

Ten years of next-generation sequencing technology

What is the field of bioinformatics?

Next-Generation Sequencing data can be very informative, and, more often than not, too informative. After an initial analysis of sequence data, it is common to obtain a list of thousands of seemingly unrelated biological effects that have come about through the use of a product (either in clinical trials or in a laboratory model).  The methods used to analyze this mountain of data are collectively referred to as bioinformatics.  A skilled and knowledgeable bioinformatician makes all of the difference in distilling complex sequencing data into something meaningful.  Thanks to Wasatch Scientific’s understanding of the natural product industry, we have developed specialized bioinformatic methods capable of extracting the most relevant information and condensing it into important biological pathways.

Unlike traditional contract research providers, we do not simply hand over a list of results for the client to attempt to interpret.  Instead, once we have generated a list of a particular treatment’s biological effects, our scientists prepare and present a report to the client detailing (in understandable terms) what their product does at a molecular level – and how that translates to improved health.  Wasatch Scientific can also consult with the client on how that information might best be marketed to their customers.

The result: powerful and persuasive evidence for your product

This information represents a competitive advantage for our clients – with it they can present their customers with the scientific basis for their products, and teach them why it is important.   The company is equipped with hard scientific evidence that their products improve health.

Wasatch Scientific welcomes new clients who are interested in understanding and promoting the biological basis for the effectiveness of their products.  Contact us to schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our scientists.

Also, please check back as this is the first of a series of posts regarding bioinformatics and sequencing in the natural product space.