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Highlights from Probiota 2017 in Berlin

Microbiome manipulation proposed as way to ‘engineer’ health

Post a commentBy Will Chu , 16-Feb-2017
Last updated on 16-Feb-2017 at 11:54 GMT2017-02-16T11:54:40Z

Microbiome engineering holds great promise thanks to advances in the field of synthetic biology. ©iStock

Microbiome engineering holds great promise thanks to advances in the field of synthetic biology. ©iStock

The advent of synthetic biology, to essentially enhance microorganism capability is the radical approach being proposed to address micronutrient deficiencies and ‘engineer’ health.

Synthetic biology could be described as the adoption of engineering principles to design and assemble biological components.

The biological components in this case is the microbiome of food that according to Dr Ihab Boulas can be manipulated to increase vitamin yields and the bio-availability of minerals in situ.

Speaking at Probiota, Dr Boulas envisages that in the not too distant future, eating enhanced functional food that works harder and more efficiently will become a reality.

“One of the things we’re working on is a second-generation baker’s yeast that increases the bioavailability of iron in bread,” he said.

“You could be eating the same amount of bread but you’ll have more iron intake.”

Other examples could see engineered bacteria secrete certain chemicals to enhance crop resilience by stimulating the actions of beneficial microbiomes.

Whatever the possibilities, the technology, knowledge and motivations are there, as Dr Boulhas describes his vision towards the use of enhanced and personalised bacteria to boost health.

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