New funding and licencing deals will help the UK Institute of Food Research (IRF) to take a significant step closer to the commercial use of its model gut systems by international food and drug companies.
The freshly secured funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will help the IFR and its technology management partner firm Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL) to further develop and validate its ‘Dynamic Gastric Model’.
The IFR said the new £900,000 (€1.04m) funding will also help it to improve how well the model simulates the release of nutrients or drugs in humans.
"We will clearly demonstrate how well the model simulates and predicts the availability of nutrients or drugs in humans, and to refine the model so that it can be more widely used, and therefore reduce the reliance on animal and human studies,” explained Professor Peter Wilde of the IFR.
“This will significantly enhance the commercial and scientific potential of the model."
The Dynamic Gastric Model (DGM), developed after years of research at the Institute of Food Research, accurately simulates the physical and biochemical processes that occur within the human stomach.
It is said to be the world's first computer controlled, mechanical simulator of gastric digestion that works in real-time to process real chewed foods or meals and oral pharmaceutical or nutraceutical products.
With the new two-year project, the IFR said that aims to refine and improve its existing models and ensure that it can continue strategic research.
The new funding comes in addition to the IFR and PBL agreeing a deal to exclusively license use of the DGM system to Danish contract research firm Bioneer A/S.
Bioneer also acquired PBL's contract research business which provides specialist gut modelling services to the pharmaceutical and food-related industries.
The Model Gut services will be integrated into Bioneer's own service offering under the Bioneer :FARMA brand.
"The DGM takes our services to a highly advanced level. In combination with our existing digestion models, we can now conduct advanced analyses along the whole gastro-intestinal tract,” said Professor Anette Müllertz, Head of Department at Bioneer :FARMA.
Martin Stocks, PBL Business Development Manager, said the integration with Bioneer will provide “a wide array of complementary capabilities that will both expand and enable the unique capabilities of the Model Gut's technologies for determining the performance of ingested materials in the gastric and intestinal compartments.”