Personalised nutrition for optimum health

Every cell requires energy to grow effectively. Declines in bioenergy have been associated with ageing and disease. Mitochondria are crucial to this process as they produce the energy for the cell, and are therefore referred to as the molecular batteries or the powerhouse of the cell. However, these batteries are less efficient in older age due to the accumulation of oxidative stress over a life span, which is caused by the excessive production of highly reactive molecules (free radicals). This type of stress is caused by either external factors such as sunlight on the skin, smoking and air pollution, or internal factors such as diet and lifestyle. High levels of oxidative stress have also been reported in elite endurance athletes following intensive training.

Since exposure to these factors can produce free radicals, the body uses a defence system of antioxidants to prevent free radical damage. Antioxidants comprise a large group of bioactive compounds that have been shown to counteract oxidative stress production in cells. This presents an excellent opportunity to optimise the performance of cells using antioxidants either from the diet (i.e. as food and drink and/or supplements) or as topically applied creams. PB Bioscience has developed new techniques that can determine the efficiency of antioxidants both in vitro as well as in vivo, and thus is able to generate information that is much more relevant than the currently applied chemical antioxidant test in most laboratories (ORAC, TEAC, and FRAP).

Figure 1: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage as an indicator for the effectiveness of antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress in skin cells. Reduction of mtDNA damage in skin fibroblasts cells is dependent on the antioxidant and its concentration range.

The science at the heart of PB Bioscience encompasses two previously unrelated technologies: the natural barometer of oxidative damage (i.e. mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage) combined with nutritional biology. This has allowed the company to develop cutting edge technology which is able to determine the relative potency of antioxidants both in the laboratory environment (i.e. in vitro; see Figure 1) but also in the actual person (i.e. in vivo; see Figure 2). More importantly, since everyone reacts differently to dietary antioxidants, there is a timely opportunity for a customised or personalised approach to providing potent antioxidants through the diet that moves away from the “one size fits all” mentality.

“Achieve and maintain your personal best with PB Bioscience”

Figure 2: Results of a trial assessing the effectiveness of an antioxidant rich food to reduce oxidative stress in a group of athletes. Oxidative stress and mtDNA damage assay detects changes during and after 12 weeks of daily consumption of 250g wild blueberries.
Blue bars represent dietary intake of wild blueberries (for 12 weeks); grey bars represent the time after cessation of wild blueberry consumption.


PB bioscience has therefore developed a scientifically robust scale of antioxidant potential for dietary products that could be used by the food and drink industry to develop new dietary antioxidant products with better antioxidant capacity, transparent communication to the consumer and higher market potential. Testing and development of new specific components with antioxidant capacity is determined using a newly developed robust and reproducible screening methodology by measurement of mitochondrial DNA damage, generation of reactive oxygen species and associated effects. The company is also in a position to aid the food industry in testing claims of health benefits from food and drink products.

The company has produced a sophisticated testing device that will empower everyday consumers to optimise their antioxidant status and their resistance to harmful oxidative stress. The testing device is based on the principle of a whole-blood chemiluminescence assays that quantitatively detects oxidative stress in as little as one drop of blood, therefore rapidly assessing its oxidant scavenging ability. This test will allow people to find out which antioxidants in their diet would successfully boost their body’s own cells thereby allowing PB Bioscience to advise consumers how to achieve their personal best through their diet.

Further reading and scientific literature

Mitochondria utilise the food we consume to produce cellular energy in the form of ATP and are therefore crucial for healthy cells in all tissues of the body. Damage to our mitochondria and especially damage to the DNA inside the mitochondria (i.e. mtDNA) is closely linked with the development of many cancers as well as ageing in many tissues including the skin (Birch-Machin 2006, Birket and Birch-Machin 2007, Birch-Machin and Swallwell 2010, Tulah and Birch-Machin 2013).

Previous work in the Birch-Machin research group investigated the key role of mitochondria in the relationship between nutritional status, oxidative stress and ageing particularly in human skin (Birket and Birch-Machin 2007; Birket et al., 2009; Oyewole et al., 2010, Oyewole 2014 ). Through various publications and with collaborators, the group has shown that dietary components (such as lycopene in tomatoes) can benefit skin either in vivo or in vitro (Oyewole et al., 2010, Oyewole 2014, Rizwan et al., 2011). However, high inter-individual variations have been observed after dietary intake of antioxidant rich foods and supplements in the Lietz research group (Leung et al. 2009, Lietz et al. 2011, Lietz et al. 2012).

Although some of this variation can be explained by diet/gene interactions, the detection of physiological responses to diet in each individual is the key component needed to aid in personalised dietary and lifestyle coaching. It is therefore the aim of PB Bioscience to develop scientifically robust and sensitive tests that will aid both the consumer as well as the industry in deciding which lifestyle and/or dietary antioxidant rich food or supplement will aid in the long term optimisation of overall well being.


  • Birch-Machin MA and Swallwell H. Mutagenesis (2010), 25, 101-107.
  • Birch-Machin MA. Clin Exp Dermatol. (2006);31(4):548-52.
  • Birket, et al., J Invest Dermatol. (2009). 129: 1361-1366.
  • Birket M and Birch-Machin MA, Aging Cell (2007), 6, 557-64.
  • Oyewole et al. Brit J Dermatol (2010) 162, 938-938.
  • Leung et al. (2009) FASEB J. 23, 1041–1053.
  • Lietz et al. (2011) J Nutr., Jan;142(1):161S-5S.
  • Rizwan et al. (2011), Brit J Dermatol 2011, 164, 154-162.
  • Lietz G, et al.(2012) Mol Nutr Food Res;56(2):241-50.
  • Tulah AS and Birch-Machin MA. Mitochondrion. 2013 Sep;13(5):444-53.
  • Oyewole et al., (2014) FASEB vol. 28 no. 1 485-494.

PB Bioscience Limited

Research Beehive, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU
Tel: +44 (0)191 300 8412 | Email: