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The food, GI-tract functionality and human health cluster

Contract number :
Contract type : Cluster
Total cost : € 16.992.298
EC contribution : € 12.404.334
Starting date : 1/02/2001
Duration : End: 31/12/2005
Scientific Officer : Jürgen Lucas
Project website :
Prof. Dr Tiina Mattila-Sandholm
VTT Biotechnology
P.O. Box 1500
02044 VTT
Tel.: +358-9-456 5200
Fax: +358-9-455 2028
E-mail: tiina.mattila-sandholm @

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.
(expected) Results and achievements

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 @
  • 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 @
  • 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 @


Functional food, gut microflora and healthy ageing
INRA Jouy-en-Josas, F
Development and application of high throughput molecular methods for studying the human gut microbiota in relation to diet and health
Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke, D
Functional assessment of interactions between the human gut microbiota and the host
University of Reading, UK
Probiotic strains with designed health properties
Institut Pasteur de Lille, F
Probiotics and gastrointestinal disorders: Controlled trials of European Union patients
University College Cork, IRL
Molecular analysis and mechanistic elucidation of the functionality of probiotics and prebiotics in the inhibition of pathogenic microorganisms to combat gastrointestinal disorders and to improve human health
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, B
Biosafety evaluation of probiotic lactic acid bacteria used for human consumption
Universiteit Antwerpen, B

Nutritional enhancement of probiotics and prebiotics: Technology aspects on microbial viability, stability, functionality and on prebiotic function
Technische Universität Berlin, D

Fifth Framework Programme

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