DuPont’s Microbiome Venture membership swells to three with INRA confirmed

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

High Throughput Screening Automate. ©INRA
High Throughput Screening Automate. ©INRA
DuPont Nutrition & Health continue to add to its Microbiome Venture ranks with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research’s (INRA) metagenomics expertise now on board as a member.

The relationship with INRA, represented by the Micalis Institute and MetaGenoPolis, will look at the molecular mechanisms of action DuPont’s probiotic strains follow using a functional metagenomics approach.

“DuPont continues to build its capabilities to lead microbiome innovation through strategic partnerships,” ​said Microbiome Venture Leader Sebastien Guery.

“We are nicely complementing our set of capabilities by adding the understanding of the DuPont Danisco probiotics’ mechanisms of action on human health at a molecular level.”

Four main mechanisms of action

INRA’s contribution stem from its high-throughput screening (HTS) platform. The technology tests the effect of DNA fragment in genomic or metagenomic libraries on intestinal epithelial cell lines modified with reporter gene technology.

This allows the screening of genomic and metagenomic clones on various reporter systems targeting pathways involved in homeostasis, metabolism, immune control as well as enteroendocrine cell activation.

Probiotics exhibit their beneficial effects on the host via a series of four main mechanisms of action.

These are pathogen interference, barrier function improvement, immunomodulation and neurotransmitter production.

Selection of a specific mechanism depends on the type of host, which vary considerably from the resident microbiota to cellular components of the gut–brain axis.

Despite observations that point to the beneficial processes deployed by probiotic bacteria, relatively few effects have been evidenced by clinical trial data—a shortcoming that the partnership with INRA aims to address.

A trio of partnerships

The collaboration is the third one in a series of deals with a number of research institutions specialising in the development of probiotic strains.

Guery said the motivations behind this latest agreement was to “to understand the “culturability” of next-generation probiotics”, ​following foundations laid in 2017 with a multiyear partnership with the APC Microbiome Institute in Cork, Ireland.

That partnership intends to look into microbiome research, focusing on various life stages that include early life through to senior citizens.

As well as work looking into the mother-infant microbiome and gut-brain axis, the issue of infant nutrition, foods and beverages and dietary supplements will also form a research focus.​

DuPont’s March agreement with the Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies (TFTAK) in Tallinn, Estonia—a contract research organisation specialising in food and fermentation technologies—looked to “build on the development and optimisation of novel bacteria of interest to the dairy industry and potentially to nutrition, health and wellness companies”. ​

Formed in 2017, DuPont’s Microbiome Venture is a mix of strategic partnerships and internal investments aimed at complementing DuPont’s existing product portfolio especially in the areas of probiotics and prebiotics, including human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs.)

The Danish bio-based firm’s HMO product CARE4U, very recently obtained European Union approval for use as a novel food in infant and follow-on formula, foods for young children, medical foods, and other foods.

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