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Diary Note

For Your Editorial Planning

GI-Tract and Human Health Cluster
Final workshop

Brussels, 10-11 March 2005

Workshop on how our intestinal bacteria influence our health and how pro- and prebiotic foods can improve our well-being

10-11 March 2005 (closed workshop, both days open to interested journalists)

Hotel Bristol Stephanie, 91-93 Avenue Louise, B-1050 Brussels

On 10-11 March 2005 in Brussels the final workshop of PROEUHEALTH will take place at the Hotel Bristol Stephanie. PROEUHEALTH is a scientific, medical and commercial cooperation platform (cluster of 8 projects) between 64 research groups from 16 European countries. The cluster, which started in year 2001, was supported with EUR 12.4 million from the European Research Framework Programme. The cluster was aiming at a better understanding of the relationships between food, intestinal bacteria and human health and disease. Questions addressed were what is the role of intestinal bacteria in human health and disease and how new pro- and prebiotic therapies could enhance well-being, contribute to healthy ageing and protect against intestinal infections.

Conference programme
For a detailed programme of the workshop please see or

Additional information on this press event:

  • As mentioned in the programme, the press event with project coordinators and Director Christian Patermann (Research DG of the European Commission) will take place on the 11th of March at 11:30 at the Hotel Bristol Stephanie. A press lunch will follow.
  • a limited number of seats is available to journalists during the entire conference.

Eight PROEUHEALTH cluster projects are presented in the meeting:

  • Microbial diagnostics of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract - "Which bacterium is which?" (MICROBE DIAGNOSTICS)
    In this project, new techniques were developed that enable scientists to quickly identify bacteria based on their DNA (i.e. their genes). These were used to determine what bacteria are usually present in the intestines of healthy people, and how this ecosystem changes with age, diet, lifestyle and chronic intestinal diseases. This knowledge will allow the development of therapeutic approaches that beneficially modify the intestinal ecosystem.
  • Functional foods, gut microbiota and ageing (CROWNALIFE)
    In this project, new specialised synbiotics (combinations of health-benefiting microbes, probiotics, and certain types of fibre compounds, prebiotics) were designed especially for the elderly people. They were tested in clinical trials to determine if they can reduce the levels in biomarkers associated with colon cancer risk and other intestinal ailments including intestinal infections.
  • Interactions between gut microbiota and the host (EU & MICROFUNCTION)
    Probiotic bacteria are known to have positive effects on human gastrointestinal health, but the mechanisms of these effects are still not fully understood. The objective of this project was to determine the efficacy and safety of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics which may depend on the dose of these components, their proportions in the food product and their interaction with the host.

  • Lactic acid bacteria strains with designed health properties - "Second generation probiotics" (DEPROHEALTH)
    Certain probiotic (health-promoting) bacteria can beneficially influence our immune system. In this project, research was conducted to determine exactly how they do this. For example, in the chronic intestinal diseases ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease there is a severe inflammation of the intestinal tract; hence they are called inflammatory bowel disease or IBD for short. Within this project, probiotic strains were sought and trialled for their ability to prevent this inflammation by regulating the immune system. The aim was to develop new effective treatments for IBD and also for rotavirus and Helicobacter intestinal infections.
  • Probiotics and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) (PROGID)
    In this project clinical trials were conducted to see if probiotics can extend or even maintain remission (= disappearance of the signs and symptoms of a disease) in volunteers suffering from IBD. The types of bacteria present in the intestines of the volunteers were examined in aim to identify particular bacteria that might play a role in causing IBD. This may lead to the future development of new and safe treatments for IBD sufferers.
  • Technology of pro- and prebiotics - "Keeping the good bacteria alive and healthy so that they can keep you healthy" (PROTECH)
    In this project, new production and formulation technologies were developed that will allow probiotics to be incorporated into a variety of new foods. Researchers in this project were also looking for new ways to produce probiotics so that they have improved vitality and thereby better effectiveness. This included the development of new and unique prebiotics. The project will therefore increase the range and enhance quality of probiotic products available to all of us.
  • Inhibition of pathogens by pro- and prebiotics (PROPATH)
    Probiotic bacteria can help to prevent gastrointestinal disorders, but still very little is known about the mechanisms of influencing the well-being of our gastrointestinal tract. This project selected potential probiotic bacteria that displayed a clear inhibition of harmful bacteria that cause diarrhoea or gastric disorders. The aim was to describe the properties of these probiotic bacteria; how widely they inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and what is their influence based on.

  • Safety of probiotic lactic acid bacteria (PROSAFE)
    Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been widely used in different food applications for centuries. Although the long experience with LAB has shown that these bacteria are usually safe to use in food production, the numerous number of different strains and new applications also create a need for safety assessment. The objective of the project was to propose criteria and guidelines for testing safety of different strains. The project will develop procedures and standardised ways to assess safety before any bacteria has been applied in food production and also ways to survey the safety when products are marketed.

Press releases of all these projects are presented in the appendix. More PROEUHEALTH cluster material is available here:

You can download an Appendix to this Diary Note, containing PROEUHEALTH project press releases.

For additional information on please contact

Maria Saarela, VTT Biotechnology,
PO Box 1500, FI-02044 VTT, Finland
Tel. +358 20 7224466, Fax +358 20 7227071

Jürgen Lucas, Scientific Officer
Research Directorate-General, Food Quality (E.2), European Commission
Tel: (+32-2) 296 41 52 or (+32-2) 296 48 38, Fax: (+32-2) 296 43 22

Isabelle de Froidmont-Goertz, Scientific officer
Research Directorate-General, Food Quality (E.2), European Commission
Tel: (+32-2) 296 85 71, Fax: (+32-2)296 43 22
E-mail :

Michael H. Wappelhorst, Press and information officer
Information and communication Unit, Research DG, European Commission
Tel: (+32-2) 298 75 75, Fax: (+32-2)295 82 20


PLEASE FAX TO +32.2.295 82 20

To apply for your attendance, please send e-mail or fax enclosed form to:

Fax: +32.2.295 82 20, E-Mail:




Hotel Bristol Stephanie, 91-93 Avenue Louise, B-1050 Brussels
Brussels (Belgium), 10-11.3.2005

[ ] Yes, I would like to attend the press conference on 11 March between 11:30 and 12:30 hrs.

Name ____________________________________________________


Press Card No _____________________________________________

[ ] In addition, I wish to attend the workshop on 10 March 2005 in Brussels.

[ ] In addition, I wish to attend the workshop on 11 March 2005 in Brussels.

[ ] No, I am unable to attend, but would like to receive further information (press kit)



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