This project brings together 64 research partners from 16 European countries in the quest to obtain greater knowledge of the role of the intestinal microbiota in human health and disease and to develop new functional foods and therapies. Eight complementary multicentre European projects are included in the cluster. They cover all aspects in the development of new probiotic foods, from designing molecular tools to study the ecology of the intestinal microbiota, to understanding mechanisms of bacterium-host interactions, providing solutions to food technology issues, and finally to conducting human clinical trials to assess efficacy in preventing or treating disease. For more details, please see the description of the projects elsewhere in this catalogue.
The cluster aims to provide:
- A clearer understanding of the relationships between food, intestinal bacteria and human health and disease;
- New molecular research tools for studying the composition and activity of the intestinal microbiota;
- New therapeutic and prophylactic treatments for intestinal infections, chronic intestinal diseases, and for healthy ageing;
- A molecular understanding of immune modulation by probiotic bacteria and testing of probiotics as vaccine delivery vehicles;
- Biosafety evaluation of probiotics for human consumption
- Commercial opportunities for food and pharmaceutical industries.
The research innovations produced by the cluster will be disseminated to target audiences through three platforms:
- The Science Platform will provide an internal dissemination and networking platform for the cluster. The coordinator is Prof. Dr Willem de Vos, Agricultural University Wageningen (NL), email: willem.devos @ algemeen.micr.wau.nl.
- The Industry Platform will enable the cluster to disseminate its research innovations to probiotic industries throughout Europe and the world and maximise the potential for commercial exploitation of results from the cluster's research. The coordinator is Prof. Dr Charles Daly, University College Cork (IRL), email: nfbc @ ucc.ie)
- The Consumer Platform will provide information to consumers about the cluster and its innovations in an appropriately tailored format, ensuring that the general public is kept informed and benefit from the research. The coordinator is Dr Liisa Lähteenmäki, VTT (FIN), email: liisa.lahteenmaki @ vtt.fi.