Nutrition meets pharma: Experts discuss the future of the microbiome - WATCH

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

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With ever-blurring lines between the food and pharmaceutical space, the NutraIngredients team asked experts at our recent Probiota conference how they believe the microbiome space will develop in the future.

Dr Arthur Ouwehand of DuPont says he believes the future of the microbiome space is very bright, with lots of opportunities.

"It is true that pharma is interested in the microbiota as well, which is a good thing for a number of reasons."

"The pharma industry has realised that since many drugs are consumed orally, that the microbiota plays a role there. But also, let's say as an expansion to the traditional proboitic field, the pharma industry is looking at this as well.

Meanwhile, Linda Nackmar of Probi says she believes some of the pharmaceutical companies coming into the space will try to drive it towards the over-the-counter (OTC) and consumer health models.

"In a way there is a bit of a thin line between supplements and OTC,"​ she said. "So I don't rule out any of the areas, but I think that for the nearest future supplements will continue to grow but so will food."

Ouwehand agrees, noting that many pharmaceutical companies also have consumer healthcare divisions which are actually already active in probiotics

"My guess is that with the efforts that pharma can put into it, there will be more specific drug-like applications,"​ he said, adding that the strains being used would probably then no longer be referred to as 'probiotics' but rather as 'live biotherapeutics'.

Professor Gregor Reid of Western University in Canada - and chair of ISAPP - told us he believes that once a company in the probiotic are starts to see success on a large scale, it will cause 'big pharma' to look and consider their options - including buy-outs or doing their own microbiome work - or risk becoming obsolete.

"So it does take all parties, and a lot of it will come from startup companies that are eager to prove something and do it well,"​ he said.

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