The three day symposium, which aimed to connect the business and science of the microbiome health industry, was chaired by Editor-in-Chief for NutraIngredients Europe and US, Stephen Daniells, covering science, regulation, and innovation, with thought-provoking presentations and panels.
Nikki Hancocks, Editor at NutraIngredients Europe, said of the event: "It was a particular pleasure to assist in hosting this year's Probiota conference. It seems the combination of outstanding scientific advances, strong consumer appetite, and exciting innovation, has led to a real hunger for networking, knowledge-sharing, and collaboration across this industry.
"Thank you to all involved in making this a one-of-a-kind annual event - we are already looking forward to next year."
Here are just a few highlights from the show, with further coverage to come in the following weeks.
Professor Lars Bode opened the show with insights into HMO microbe-independent abilities and the opportunities that research could provide for improved health across the board.
In a concise continuation, Abbott's Senior Research Fellow, Rachel Buck, spoke of the need for HMO innovations in infant formula development, and Adam Baker of Chr. Hansen paid prominent attention to new science in microbiome and and probiotic strains that can work synergistically with specific HMOs.
Professor Michiel Kleerebezem, from Wageningen University, and Dr Johanna Maukonen, director of global clinical innovation and translation at IFF Health, joined in with the theme of combination, discussing the benefits of selective synbiotics, opportunities with botanicals, and next generation probiotics.
Professor Seppo Salminen, from the University of Turku, Finland, provided a valuable overview in biotic terminology and gave insight into evolving ISAPP consensus definitions pointing out, “If we were to hear the original definition of prebiotics, we wouldn’t recognise them as such today”.
The audience were treated to an uplifting origin story from Wilbert Sybesma, founder of Yoba for Life, and collaborator Professor Remco Kort, of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Offering an accessible overview of their starter culture project in East-Africa that provides opportunity and education for better gut health among restricted communities, the protagonists called for other collaborators and expansion of their charitable project.
State of the industry
The audience heard that with boosted interest in all things microbiome related in the last year, came record sales due to consumer interest in boosting immunity.
Ewa Hudson, director of insights for Lumina Intelligence, revealed the latest probiotic e-commerce market data and the emerging consumer trends for synbiotics, sleep, and beauty-from-within. “We are in a position, not of recognising an evolution of microbiome, but an evolution of our understanding,” she asserted.
In a panel chaired by IPA Europe's executive director George Paraskevakos, Claire Guignier, Public Affairs and Communication Manager at Synadiet, explained the decision making behind France’s acceptance of the term 'probiotic' on packaging, providing hope for other member states.
Rosanna Pecere, executive director of IPA Europe, provided updates on the latest advancements and where the industry sits with manufacturing, technical, and regulatory affairs.
And delving into the world of phages, Professor Dennis Sandris Nielsen, from the University of Copenhagen, shared education on the promising research being done on Bacteriophage effect on alleviating GM dysbiosis related diseases. He shared endless enthusiasm on the potential use of Phages and the how they can manipulate gut microbiome.
An on-going point of discussion was new science into the gut-brain-axis. Richard Day, VP medical affairs and clinical development at ADM, kept unwavering attention with devastating numbers showing increasing depression, anxiety, and Parkinson’s rates. With focus on the bi-directional interaction between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system, he spoke of the evolution of understanding when it comes to mental health, and how expansion in research means physical and mental wellbeing can now be treated and understood in unison.
Dr Marcus Böhme, R&D Specialist at Nestlé Institute of Heath Sciences, continued the theme with studies on ageing brains in relation to gut health and efficiency. He presented on where the industry knowledge sits through summaries of clinical studies, while stating gaps in understanding call for progress in further research.
With mental health the hot topic, Robert Dixon, science and technology manager at Unilever, suggested good gut health can be an enabler of mental wellbeing. With reference to poor sleep and stress levels, he presented research studies from Unilever that explored how improvements in diet may be the key to addressing mental health issues by identifying metabolites and neurotransmitters produced by the gut microbiota.
A much-anticipated talk by Professor Tim Spectre, King’s College London, scientific co-founder at ZOE, told delegates personalised nutrition is a logical and booming industry. Spector ran through the origins, teething issues and solutions found in processing Blastocysitis findings to achieve accessible personalised datasets for consumers.
Chad Kerksick, director of exercise and performance nutrition at Lindenwood University, Missouri, shared an enthusiastic account of a recently completed study in the untapped area of microbiome in elite female athletes. The research compiled on cross-fit champion Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, gave readable insight into the effect of sustained athleticism on healthy gut microbiome.
Orla O’Sullivan, senior researcher at Teagasc, Ireland, continued the theme, with statements that fuelling microbes depends on long term fitness within hosts. A key result was that there was a significant difference in faecal butyrate samples between those new to extreme exercise and regular participants for longer than twelve years - bursts in exercise will not alter a hosts microbiome.
Final sessions focused on the interest in approaches to modifying the microbiome to treat disease, with experts including Dr. Luis Gosalbez, co-founder and manager director of Sandwalk Bioventures, and professor Bruno Pot, science director at Yakult Europe, discussing the regulation and research shaping this opportunity.