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DISPATCHES FROM VITAFOODS EUROPE 2012

EndoSeaRch: A new way to modify gut health?

By Nathan Gray+

30-May-2012

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A new approach to modifying gut bacteria via orally delivered minerals has been gaining a lot of interest from probiotics players, says Aquapharm.

Despite a raft of negative opinions from EFSA, pre- and probiotic products dominate the gut health market. However, the gut health sector could soon be about to change – with the addition of a third method to modulate the microbiota.

The new technology platform, known as EndoSeaRch, has been created by Scottish biotechnology firm Aquapharm. The technique uses orally delivered minerals of a food grade quality to stimulate ‘defence mechanisms’ in bacterial populations.

The technology has been used by the firm for several years in the search for new compounds from marine bacteria, as it maximises the range of bio-chemicals the bacteria produce. 

Professor Simon Best, CEO of Aquapharm caught up with NutraIngredients at the Vitafoods Europe show to tell us how he hopes this bacterial ‘shock mechanism’ can now be transferred to bring benefits to gut bacteria.

Best told us the technology could provide a new way of tackling gut health, adding that the probiotic industry could see the developments as either complimentary or competitive.

“If you think about it, we could also be enhancing the performance of probiotics. Because the probiotics themselves could also have additional benefits that they could bring if ‘woken up’ by our shock technique,” Best revealed.

Aquapharm will now join forces with the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) to evaluate the potential of the EndoSeaRch platform in models of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

If the initial studies with the MRC are successful, Best says he hopes to extend the work towards the basis of new digestive health-promoting products including food supplements and ingredients for humans and farm animals.

“The health claims associated with the current food products available to modify it [the microbiome], such as prebiotics and probiotic live cultures, have so far been largely rejected. Current bio-pharmaceutical approaches are either expensive and/or of limited efficacy. The time is ripe to try a novel strategy to modify the biome, such as EndoSeaRch," said Best.

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