The partnership focuses on a number of areas that include probiotics and prebiotics, including human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs.) that feature prominently in a recent wave of early-life stage product launches.
“DuPont Nutrition and Health’s Microbiome Venture is addressing a number of different health benefit areas as well as life stages - early life as well as adults including seniors - and will include applications ranging from infant nutrition to foods and beverages and dietary supplements,” said Dr Andrew Morgan, DuPont fellow and chief scientist with DuPont Nutrition and Health.
“We have to consider different ways to modulate the microbiome and what the best approach is for different health benefits and life stage. For example, probiotics and prebiotics are potential and likely options but putting together the right “solutions” will be important too.”
Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli focus
The Venture kicks off with a multiyear partnership with the APC Microbiome Institute in Cork, Ireland, itself a collaboration between University College Cork, Teagasc (the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority) and Cork Institute of Technology.
According to DuPont, the APC’s breadth and depth in microbiome science capability as well as a impressive track record in the areas of mother-infant and gut-brain axis made them ideal collaborators.
As well as established strains such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in DuPont’s portfolio, the company mentioned an interest in new commensal microbes associated with health that includes new strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species as well as next generation probiotics.
Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government of Ireland emphasised the collaboration’s “support in regional development and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation for research excellence”.
“We look forward to seeing the results of this partnership, with the development of cutting-edge research and commercialisation capabilities.”
Collaborations of this nature aim to develop next generation probiotics with the efficacy to address conditions such as obesity and even cancer. Many chronic diseases or disorders are characterised by a change in microbiome composition – a so-called “dysbiosis” or “dysbiotic state”.
According to Dr Morgan, solutions that can reinforce or shift the balance of microbes towards the “symbiotic state” could help maintain health as well as prevent, manage or treat such diseases and disorders.
Mounting industry gut interest
The emergence of microbiome-based products has gained much momentum in recent years with similar collaborations among industry and academia deemed necessary to pool resources.
“In such a complex field as microbiome science, collaborations will play an important role in driving innovation as the capabilities and knowledge needed do not necessarily reside all in one place,” added Dr Morgan.
“Even though it is still early, there has been a very significant level of investment made by venture capital companies, pharma and food companies in this space. For example, today there are many start-up companies around the world focusing solely on microbiome science solutions.”
As well as DuPont, 2016’s collaboration between Chr. Hansen and Caelus Health look to develop Eubacterium hallii as a next generation probiotic for prevention and treatment of metabolic disease.
Caelus Health’s lead bacterial strain CP-001, a formulation of E. hallii is currently involved in a first phase clinical study investigating its role in insulin resistance.
Meanwhile, The University of Minnesota announced the creation of CoreBiome back in August. This startup company provides analysis of microbial communities for agricultural, environmental and human health applications.
Other microbiome startups in this space include PivotBio, uBiome and NewLeaf Symbiotics.