€6.3m research project to look at replacing ‘missing microbes’ in infant guts

13 Mar 2020

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APC Microbiome Ireland and DuPont have announced a joint research project to investigate rebalancing babies’ gut bacteria following birth.

A new joint Irish and US research project has been announced that will look to address the issue of gut health in newborns who have experienced either antibiotic exposure or underwent a Caesarean-section (C-section) birth.

The €6.3m project is called ‘Missing Microbes in Infants born by C-section’ (Mimic), with research shared between SFI research centre APC Microbiome Ireland and DuPont Nutrition and Bioscience. The four-year project aims to develop solutions to help establish a healthy microbiome for infants.

Bacteria population in the gut develops over the first four years of life and plays a key role in human health. However, infant gut microbiota can be severely depleted in infants born by C-section or exposed to antibiotics. Breastfeeding has been shown to help improve microbiota composition.

‘Providing critical health offerings’

“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” said Prof Catherine Stanton, project leader at APC Microbiome Ireland.

“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.”

The Ireland-based research team also includes Prof Eugene Dempsey, neonatology lead at the Infant research centre based at University College Cork; and Prof John Cryan, who leads brain-gut-microbiome research at APC Microbiome Ireland.

Dr Martin J Kullen, director of probiotics and microbiome research at DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences, added: “We are honoured and privileged to be working with APC with the help of funding from SFI 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 wellbeing.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic