Technology expertise

Bioactives & Performance Biologicals – From receptor biology to active ingredients

Receptors play a key role in biological systems in terms of their perception of and interaction with the environment. The activation or inhibition of these proteins by appropriate substances determines physiological responses, e.g. those of our body. Thus, receptors are suitable targets for identifying compounds that can be used to maintain and improve health and well-being.

Research on receptors in suitable model systems and the evaluation of potential modulators are the basis of BRAIN’s Bioactives and Performance Biologicals Unit.

We offer innovative approaches for the discovery and development of active ingredients. The R&D Unit provides state-of-the-art cell culture model systems, unique screening resources, and a strong bioinformatics toolbox.

An open, creative environment for scouting and developing innovative concepts and ideas enables the identification of new relevant targets for high-throughput screening. This is complemented by in-house experience in application technology and prototype development and a vibrant network with academic, clinical and industrial partners.

In summary: we support clients along the entire value chain – from identification of the target and screening of novel actives to applicable prototypes.

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Dr Dirk Sombroek

is our expert in the field of BioActives & Performance Biologicals

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Team up with us to benefit from our technology portfolio

Customers benefit from our many years of experience in cell line development, our ready-to-use test systems (screenlines®), applied bioinformatics and the proprietary screening libraries of the BRAIN Group.

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“We are enthusiastic scientists with a wealth of expertise in cell and receptor biology. In addition, we are creative developers of applicable solutions. Our partners benefit from this strong combination.”

Dr Dirk Sombroek
Unit Head Bioactives & Performance Biologicals

What we are really good at:

Creating cellular model systems for health and nutrition

All diverse biological functions in organisms are based on specialized organs composed of multiple, very different cell types. To mimic defined aspects of these complex structures in the lab, we create so-called cell-based models. This miniaturization allows fast and quantifiable read-outs not only of single target proteins but also of entire cellular behaviors.

We have a long track record of developing novel cell-based models together with academic and industrial partners and offer our expertise to create customized cell lines and assays in 2D as well as in 3D formats.

Our focus is to mimic taste perception and skin functions in order to find new active ingredients for nutrition and (skin) health. This enables our research partners and customers to gain new insights into biological processes and also to test new treatment approaches or active ingredients.

Cell line engineering

  • To mimic a wide variety of different physiological functions, we at BRAIN Biotech have established our own extensive cell line collection of different human and animal cell types.
  • Our active network with clinical partners allows access to primary biopsy material and primary cells, which can be converted into stable cell lines using our toolbox for viral immortalization.
  • To identify new industry-relevant targets for our customers, we employ both classical immunohistological and next-generation gene expression analysis.
    Long-standing experience in classical and proprietary CRISPR-mediated engineering have resulted in a unique portfolio of cell lines (screenlines®): stable cell lines expressing or lacking relevant targets, e.g. membrane receptors or ion channels.
  • Genuine animal and human cells (e.g., from the tongue or skin) characterized by a natural, unmodified composition of targets, complement the collection.

Miniaturized sensory models

Visualizing and measuring the internal processes in the cells is not only important for uncovering new biological aspects but also for assessing the mode-of-action and potency of new bioactive ingredients. Our screenlines® serves as the basis for introducing genetically encoded sensors or fluorescent dyes for quantitative read-outs such as changes in second messenger levels or ion fluxes.

To reflect as closely as possible the complexity of multicellular 3D interactions, our latest developments focus on next-generation cell culture models for industrial use: 3-dimensional multicellular organoid systems combined with high-resolution microscopy to allow new insights into (patho-) physiological conditions in a more relevant 3D environment.

Our cell-based models enable the mimicking of single skin- and taste-relevant ion channels, receptors and enzymes. They can be used for testing active ingredients in application fields such as anti-ageing, skin regeneration, itching, inflammation and taste perception.

Why work with us?

  • Highly flexible customer-specific cell-based assay development
  • Unique, patent-protected cell-based models and hallmark CBAs
  • State-of-the-art and leading-edge advanced cell culture technologies

Towards Novel Bioactive Antiperspirants for Cosmetic Applications

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Hypotonic stress response of human keratinocytes involves LRRC8A as component of volume‐regulated anion channels

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Analysis of Calcium Signaling in Live Human Tongue Cell 3D-Cultures upon Tastant Perfusion

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Profiling Cisplatin Resistance in Head and Neck Cancer: A Critical Role of the VRAC Ion Channel for Chemoresistance

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We are constantly scouting and validating new targets and concepts that provide our customers with exclusive, unique and innovative approaches for product development.

Additionally, we offer the creation of customer-specific cell-based models and assays allowing tailor-made solutions. Our customers can also choose from well-established ready-to-screen assays for hallmark targets such as our TR(i)P2 programs.

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Providing novel Bioactives for health and nutrition

Industry is always seeking innovative concepts that may lead to novel products. However, the development of new active ingredients is becoming increasingly challenging: Nagoya rules, sustainability aspects, different regional requirements and approval processes have to be taken into account.

Smart approaches, prioritization and application-based development are becoming more and more important. Major challenges may vary depending on the proposed field of application (including but not limited to food, feed or cosmetics).

Discovery of novel active ingredients

The cell-based sensory models (screenlines®) enable BRAIN’s Bioactives team to identify novel active ingredients. We use our assay systems to test large compound libraries (from pure compounds to complex mixtures) for our industrial customers in screening campaigns - for example, pure natural products or fractions from edible plants from the collection held by our subsidiary AnalytiCon Discovery.

Newly identified, promising candidates are characterized with regard to their biological activity: potency and efficacy testing, mode-of-action analysis as well as counterscreens to assess selectivity. This approach supports our industrial partners in the development of new active ingredients for a wide range of applications.

Developing innovative active ingredients

After the identification of new bioactive ingredients in the discovery phase, we also support further evaluation of suitable development candidates in initial proof-of-concept studies for selected applications. Especially in the cosmetics and food sector, BRAIN provides know-how and technical capabilities for the characterization and formulation of active ingredients, including the preparation of product prototypes for efficacy and compatibility studies as well as application testing.

We can draw on a network of external experts and institutions (e.g. toxicologists, safety assessors or formulation specialists) to provide any additional expertise required. Subsidiaries of the BRAIN Group can be involved in the supply of substances and extracts (by AnalytiCon Discovery) or the production of cosmetic products. In this way, BRAIN supports partners along the entire value chain, from target to final product.

Our USPs

  • Unique combination of natural resources (Nagoya-compliant, from edible biomaterial, IECIC-compliant) and ready-to-use cell-based test systems
  • Strong expertise in cell and receptor biology to support novel screening approaches as well as claim substantiation
  • Entire innovation development: from target to application

Human cell-based taste perception – a bittersweet job for industry

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Inhibition of TRPV1 for the treatment of sensitive skin

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We offer a complete innovation workflow from concept development, target validation and active ingredient screening to mode-of-action analysis. Furthermore, we offer testing of physiological effects in in vitro models for skin/taste-relevant readouts and initial proof-of-concept studies. We advise and assist our clients in data interpretation and application review, as well as in the substantiation of claims.

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Supporting R&D through applied bioinformatics

One of the fastest-growing and most future-orientated fields in biotechnology is the in silico-based analysis of research-related tasks. To handle these tasks, we develop, evaluate and maintain bioinformatics solutions to support all areas of research covered by BRAIN.

Expanding capabilities by next-generation sequencing

One of our main areas of expertise is the high-throughput generation and analysis of DNA and RNA sequences using next-generation sequencing (NGS). We use proprietary workflows and in-house developed, state-of-the-art nanopore sequencing approaches and develop these further to meet the growing demands for internal and external projects. Furthermore, we develop customized tools to analyze all kinds of sequences, screening results and to respond to general bioinformatics challenges.

All software tools are adapted to the respective needs and constantly improved. Our in-house expertise enables a fast and reliable process and immediate adaptation of methods or analysis to results, which makes for highly adaptable and efficient bioinformatics workflows.

Smart use of omics technologies

  • We offer rapid biodiversity analysis from complex samples (from microbiome to environmental specimens): de novo analysis for examination of the genetic background or metabolic potential as well as monitoring of changes in a consortium after application of a defined stimulus, e.g. an active ingredient.
  • Furthermore, differential gene expression analysis makes it possible to reveal effects that could be adapted or exploited.
  • Digital (metagenome) libraries - proprietary data as well as public databases – can be used to identify beneficial strains, enzymes, metabolites or effects.
  • Our understanding of the underlying biology and technology enables us to carry out customized projects.

Our USPs

  • Highly flexible customer-specific approach that covers all work from wet lab to bioinformatics
  • State-of-the-art and leading-edge technologies

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We offer a highly flexible customer-specific workflow from concept development, sampling and data generation to bioinformatics analysis. We accompany and support our customers in interpreting the data and converting it into product ideas and marketing strategies.

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More about the topic


Zukunft Bio E

#9 Dirk Sombroek – Bioaktive Substanzen

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