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Major Infant Health Collaboration Announced

Major Infant Health Collaboration Announced by APC Microbiome Ireland with DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences

Rebalancing babies’ gut bacteria, whether after antibiotic exposure or Caesarean-section birth, is the topic of a new collaborative research project between APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre and DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences (DuPont) announced today.  Representatives from both organisations attended an event in Washington D.C.to celebrate US-Ireland research and development collaborations, and to announce the ‘Missing Microbes in Infants born by C-section’ (MiMIC) project and its potential to improve infant health.

Based at University College Cork and Teagasc Moorepark, APC Microbiome Ireland is a pioneer in the field of microbiome science, which focuses on microbes that live in and on the body and play a significant role in human health.  The €6.3 million, four-year MiMIC project will be funded jointly by Science Foundation Ireland’s Spokes Programme and DuPont.  It aims to develop microbiome-based solutions to help establish a healthy microbiome in early life to facilitate the long-term health of individuals.

“We are delighted to further develop our relationship with DuPont for the benefit of human health” said APC Director Prof Paul Ross“APC Microbiome Ireland is a global leader, particularly in mother-infant and gut-brain areas of microbiome science and this collaboration further strengthens our capabilities for advancing infant health and development.”

The population of bacteria in the gut develops over the first four years of life and plays a key role in human health.  Establishment of a healthy gut microbiome in early life is influenced by birth mode, antibiotic use and nutrition, including breast milk components.  Infant gut microbiota can be severely depleted in infants born by C-section or exposed to antibiotics. Breastfeeding can help improve microbiota composition.

APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre is ranked number one globally for research in antimicrobial and therapeutic microbes and is in the top five institutions in the world for microbiome research. 

“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” added 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.”

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said “Science Foundation Ireland strongly welcomes this collaboration between DuPont and APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre.  SFI Research Centres such as APC Microbiome Ireland are making important scientific advances, attract top research talent to Ireland, enhancing enterprise and industry, training students with critical in-demand skills, and boosting Ireland’s international reputation. We look forward to seeing the results of this industry partnership and its impact on public health.”

Dr. Martin J. Kullen, Director of Probiotics and Microbiome Research at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, said “We are honoured and privileged to be working with APC with the help of funding from Science Foundation Ireland 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 well-being.” 

The Ireland-based research team also includes Prof Eugene Dempsey, Neonatology lead at INFANT Research Centre (UCC), Dept. of Paediatrics and Child Health, Cork University Maternity Hospital and  APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre, and Prof John Cryan, who leads brain-gut-microbiome research at APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre.