DuPont add Estonia’s TFTAK to its swelling Microbiome Venture ranks

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

DuPont Nutrition and Health can now count on help from Estonia’s Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies (TFTAK) as its Microbiome Venture welcomes its second probiotic research partnership.

The collaboration is to focus on cultivation techniques and bioprocesses required to produce “next-generation”​ probiotics to a commercially viable scale.

“We are delighted to be partnering with TFTAK,”​ said Microbiome Venture leader Sebastien Guery.

“With its capabilities in bioprocess technology and systems biology, TFTAK will support DuPont by defining the optimum conditions required to culture and produce some of our next-generation probiotic strain candidates.”

Microbiome Venture 

DuPont laid the foundations late last year with a multiyear partnership agreed with the APC Microbiome Institute in Cork, Ireland.

That partnership aims to delve into microbiome research, specifically in a number of life stages that include early life through to senior citizens.

As well as work looking into the mother-infant microbiome and gut-brain axis, the issue of infant nutrition, foods and beverages and dietary supplements will also form a research focus.​

According to DuPont, TFTAK—a contract research organisation specializing in food and fermentation technologies—will enter a partnership that “builds on the development and optimisation of novel bacteria of interest to the dairy industry and potentially to nutrition, health and wellness companies”.

“We are looking forward to an exciting next step in our cooperation,” ​said professor Raivo Vilu, TFTAK’s director of R&D.

DuPont’s attempts to address the viability and stability challenges of probiotics is one that has proved a marketing and technological challenge for industrial producers.

The technological demands probiotic strains undergo are becoming greater requiring manufacturing process and formulation technologies for bacteria selected for their unique functional health properties.

The industrial conditions probiotic strains undergo during cultivation include storage as frozen or freeze-dried cultures.

Further down the line, probiotic strains have to survive the hostile gastrointestinal environment whilst maintaining functionality within the host.

Microbiome partnerships

As well as DuPont, collaborations to pool microbiome knowledge and resources appear to gaining momentum.  

In 2016, Chr. Hansen and Caelus Health formed a working partnership to develop Eubacterium hallii ​as a probiotic useful for the prevention and treatment of metabolic disease.

Chr. Hansen’s work in the microbiome further extended in 2017 with the news that it had added the probiotic strains Faecalibacterium prausnitzii​ and Eubacterium hallii​, to its microbial strain library.

The company said that the strains would be made available to external partners and customers “looking to accelerate development of next-generation probiotics.”

Other partnerships include one between Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Research & Development and Holobiome Corporation.

This collaboration is set to examine bacteria that could be used to create a probiotic or over-the-counter solution to sleeplessness.

Johnson & Johnson have also formed a collaboration with US-based Dermala to develop microbiome-derived treatments for skin conditions.

The pact hopes to harness Dermala's technology to boost “good” skin bacteria and eliminate the "bad" bacteria in order to balance the microbiome.

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