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4th Glycoscience Ireland Meeting

Over 120 delegates have arrived in Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy to participate at the 4th Glycoscience Ireland meeting organised by Teagasc, AGRC, NIBRT and APC. At today’s event twelve delegates will present studies on the most recent developments in fundamental and applied research in Glycobiology in the thematic areas of; “Intestinal and Microbial Glycobiology”, “Food Glycobiology”, “Glycobiological methods” and “Glycobiology in the food industry”.

The 4th GSI Meeting has attracted a number of key sponsors (AGRC,Teagasc, NIBRT, APC, SFI, EGSF, Eurofins Foods, Agilent, Mason Technology Ltd, Waters and Europa Bioproducts Ltd.) and exhibitors and has provided a unique platform for debate and discussion between academia and industry. The meeting was opened by Prof. Paul Ross, Director of Food Research in Teagasc and by Dr. Marion Boland of Science Foundation Ireland.

A presentation by Dr. Bernd Stahl from Danone Research in Friedrichsdorf focused on breast milk as the source of a huge variety of health-promoting sugars. He and many other researchers are attempting to better understand the sugar composition in breast milk, in order to use this knowledge to develop food ingredients for infants. Continuing on this theme, Dr. Christoph Rohrig from Glycom, Denmark and Prof. David Newburg, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, US, also discussed the health benefits of human milk sugars and their principal components.

Dr Tony Corfield, University of Bristol, UK and Dr Marguerite Clyne, UCD in their respective presentations outlined how bacteria in the gut use sugars to talk to the gut mucosal cells and mucus. Such topics highlight that alimentary microbiology and glycosciences are each rapidly advancing research fields in their own right. However, together these two disciplines can provide a better understanding of both symbiotic and pathogenic relationships between hosts and bacteria in the gut. Prof. Paul Ross, also gave insight into how beneficial bacteria such as probiotics, can also produce sugars which allow them to survive better in the gastrointestinal tract. A topic also brought up by Dr. Lindsay Hall earlier in the day.

The fact that there has been increased interest in recent years on glycobiology related research, means that the identification of novel diagnostic markers, prophylactics, therapeutics and nutraceuticals for gastro-intestinal health may become a reality. Indeed, Prof. Eileen Treacy, UCD in her presentation on Galactosaemia exemplified such a scenario.

Teagasc have had recent success in attaining funding for glycobiology related research and are partners in the NUIG-led Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. Prof. Lokesh Joshi, Director of the AGRC and Prof. Pauline Rudd UCD/NIBRT both strongly support food glycobiology related research in Teagasc and chaired sessions on the day.

Dr. Rita Hickey, Chairperson of 4th Glycoscience Ireland meeting and fellow organiser Dr. Mariarosaria Marotta said: “We are pleased that this meeting has attracted such a high calibre of research scientists, from both academia and industry and highlights the international reputation of Teagasc Food Research Centre, the National University of Ireland, Galway, the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research & Training (NIBRT) and University College Cork in food and health related glycoscience research. It is imperative that this reputation is maintained through effective funding and resource management especially in the current economic climate where food and agriculture have been identified as significant growth areas of the Irish economy.”
The meeting is organised by Teagasc as part of the Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) in collaboration with NUIG, NIBRT and APC.