APC and Fonterra team up to tackle gut health at UCC

2 Oct 2023

From left: UCC president Prof John O’Halloran, Fonterra scientific affairs programme leader Dr Shalome Bassett and platform manager Dr James Dekker, UCC research and innovation VP Prof John Cryan, APC Microbiome Ireland general manager Dr Brendan Curran and director Prof Paul Ross. Image: APC

The two organisations plan to develop new probiotic products, while Fonterra plans to establish a microbiome research centre at UCC this year.

APC Microbiome Ireland has entered into a new research partnership with dairy producer Fonterra to improve gut health.

The purpose of this strategic research partnership is to develop new probiotic products that have health and wellness benefits for the human microbiome.

This partnership will also lead to the establishment of a Fonterra microbiome research centre based in University College Cork (UCC) to maximise the collaborative relationship. The centre is expected to be operational before the end of 2023.

Fonterra is a New Zealand-based dairy co-operative that exports its produce to more than 130 countries around the world. Mark Malone, the company’s director of research and development, said the new partnership is an opportunity for the company to collaborate with “world-leading experts in the field of probiotics and microbiome research”.

“This will augment Fonterra’s health and nutrition expertise and accelerate our development of new and differentiated nutritional offerings,” Malone said.

Paul Ross, the director of APC Microbiome Ireland, said the collaboration is a “significant development” for the UCC-based research centre.

“This latest collaboration with industry underlines APC’s reputation as a global leader in microbiome research and our expertise in supporting new product development with our Irish and international industry partners,” Ross said.

APC Microbiome Ireland is a Science Foundation Ireland research centre focused on uncovering the mysteries of gastrointestinal health.

Earlier this year, APC researchers developed a detailed structural atlas of a crassvirus, which are among the most abundant and genetically diverse viruses found in the human gut. The goal of this atlas is to learn more about the virus’ role in shaping human health and how it impacts the human microbiome.

APC has also joined forces with BowelScreen, the national colorectal cancer (CRC) screening service, and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, to reduce ‘false-positive’ rates in CRC screening by using AI technology.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic