The ‘Missing Microbes in Infants born by C-section’ (MiMIC) project,’ is a €6.3m, four-year initiative jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland’s Spokes Programme and DuPont.
The aim is to develop microbiome-based solutions to help establish a healthy microbiome in early life that may be disrupted by antibiotic exposure or Caesarean-section birth.
“We are delighted to further develop our relationship with DuPont for the benefit of human health” says APC Director professor Paul Ross.
“APC Microbiome Ireland is a global leader, particularly in mother-infant and gut-brain areas of microbiome science and this collaboration further strengthens our capabilities for advancing infant health and development.”
Probiotics and HMOs
News of the project follows an agreement formed in November 2017, which was the first of a series of partnerships intended to push microbiome science to the forefront.
Here, the agreement focused on a few areas that included probiotics and prebiotics, including human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs.) that coincided with a recent wave of DuPont early-life stage product launches.
The collaboration looked to develop next generation probiotics 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 'dysbiotic state' also seen in babies’ gut bacteria post-caesarean or after a course of antibiotics.
“This project will allow us to identify the gut microbes in early life that play an important role in the short and long-term health of individuals and will help to develop strategies to balance the microbiota following antibiotic exposure or C-section birth mode,” adds professor Catherine Stanton, project leader at APC Microbiome Ireland.
“APC Microbiome Ireland has expanded the research and development capabilities of Ireland in an area of immediate relevance to the food and pharmaceutical sectors of industry”
Current APC agreements
APC’s microbiome science capability and knowhow in the areas of mother-infant and gut-brain axis has seen the research centre strike up several research collaborations in recent times.
As well as DuPont, the APC also heads up a €3.4m joint research initiative to optimise the use of probiotic supplements for pregnant women in order to give birth to healthier babies.
Dubbed ‘Microbe Mom,’ the initiative is a 4-way collaboration between Irish firm Alimentary Health Group, University College Dublin, and National Institute of Biotechnology Research and Training (NIBRT).
The research institute also recently partnered with global ingredient giant Tate & Lyle in an initiative looking into discovering more about the health effects of dietary fibres.
Funded by Tate & Lyle, the project sees APC Microbiome Ireland screen dietary fibres to identify potential health benefits for specific age groups and to explore the benefit of these fibres for specific health outcomes, particularly relating to cardio-metabolic health.
In a similar vein, DuPont recently struck a biotherapeutic-themed pact with MRM Health that looks to address metabolic conditions.
The deal specifically looks to combine selected DuPont strains with MRM’s technology to develop new therapeutics based on live bacterial strain combinations.
DuPont also have agreements in place with UK start-up BioMe Oxford to develop a smart swallowable capsule that offers access to 'unchartered territories' in the gut microbiota.
DuPont’s very own Microbiome Venture - a mix of probiotics and prebiotic-related partnerships and investments, counts the French National Institute for Agricultural Research’s (INRA) and the Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies (TFTAK) in Tallinn, Estonia as members.
Science Foundation Ireland funding
Commenting on DuPont’s latest project with the APC, Dr Martin J. Kullen, director of probiotics and microbiome research at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, said, “We are honoured and privileged to be working with APC with the help of funding from Science Foundation Ireland on solutions and products that are key to our human microbiome platform.
“By working with the world’s leading microbiome research institute in APC, we look forward to providing critical health offerings for key unmet needs around maternal and infant health as well as solutions for cognitive health and well-being.”
Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government of Ireland adds, “Science Foundation Ireland strongly welcomes this collaboration between DuPont and APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre.
“SFI Research Centres such as APC Microbiome Ireland are making important scientific advances, attract top research talent to Ireland, enhancing enterprise and industry, training students with critical in-demand skills, and boosting Ireland’s international reputation.
“We look forward to seeing the results of this industry partnership and its impact on public health.”