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The data jungle: Matching gene content to probiotic traits could offer industry fresh hope

By Nathan Gray+, 05-Feb-2013

Related topics: Probiotics and prebiotics, Gut/digestive health, Immune support, Suppliers, Research, Health claims, Probiotics

The probiotic industry is fighting several big fights at the minute, not least in the battle to win the first EFSA approved health claim in the market. But are the masses of data industry already has being properly utilised to achieve this goal?

Cheaper and more rapid gene sequencing has led to an explosion of genomic data in recent years. Yet the data we already possess has only just begun to be explored and used to build solid scientific evidence and inform product development.

Speaking to us at the NutraIngredients Probiotech & Microbiota 2013 conference in Brussels today, Dr Michiel Wels from NIZO Food Research said the field of genomics has ‘exploded’ as the cost of sequencing dropping rapidly in recent years.

As this technology becomes more readily available, smaller industry players have been taking up the batton of investigation.

“It’s led to all sorts of people ... smaller companies, being able to take their strain and start sequencing those,” Wels said.

“In the end what you want to do is find the genes that are really fulfilling the probiotic function. If you want to get into the regulation, and you really want to prove that the specific function is there, then you need to get a better insight into the mechanistics behind that. The best way of doing that is looking at the genetic content.”