The effect of calcium palmitate on bacteria associated with infant gut microbiota
Cooperation RUG, UMCG & Ausnutria on new publication: The effect of calcium palmitate on bacteria associated with infant gut microbiota
Randolph Happe, Head of Research & Development “As a company and as an R&D department, we really want to be involved in the progress of the research.”
Proper nutrition supports the development of healthy bacteria in the gut of children. This is important for the healthy development of children and prevention against diseases. Not only the types of bacteria are important, but also the timings certain bacteria appear and flourish. Breast milk has a beneficial effect on this, but what about bottle-fed children?
To mimic this beneficial effect of breast milk, certain optional ingredients are often added to formula, such as prebiotics. New research by Lu Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Groningen, conducted in collaboration with Ausnutria, may lay the foundation for a new approach to favorably influence the development of gut microbiota in formula-fed infants. The research focuses on the effect of calcium palmitate on bacteria associated with infant gut microbiota. We spoke to Lu Wang and her advisors from Ausnutria, Tao He and Randolph Happe, about the background of the research and the collaboration.
The basis for the collaboration in this research was founded 4 years ago on the Gut Day conference in Venlo. Gut Day is an annual international symposium where many leading researchers in the field of intestinal bacteria meet. Tao He, Nutritional Scientist at Ausnutria, met Professor Hermie Harmsen, who is supervising Lu Wang during her Ph.D study. There, ideas were exchanged about the anticipated Ph.D. research project in which Tao saw interesting leads for Ausnutria.
This was followed by a meeting at Ausnutria. Randolph Happe, Head of Research & Development at Ausnutria, was also present. Lu: “The company and the background of Ausnutria was presented. It gave a great impression of the company and their work and expertise in the field of goat milk nutrition.” The topic Lu wanted to focus on in her research was microbiota and infant nutrition. Randolph: “As an organization, it is of key importance to increase our global scientific footprint. To this end, we are looking worldwide at opportunities for collaborations to conduct the best possible research. Microbiota is an important topic in infant nutrition research. We saw potential in the topic and its link with infant nutrition.” That is how the cooperation started.
However, microbiota and infant nutrition is a hot topic. Randolph: “There are many research projects on the link between microbiota and infant nutrition.” Nevertheless, the research project of Lu Wang which is a collaboration between Ausnutria and the University of Groningen is quite unique. Tao He: “Most studies on infant nutrition and microbiota are focused on the effects of certain optional ingredients (GOS, FOS, Oligosaccharides) in infant nutrition. Instead, this study looks at the structures of fats in infant nutrition.” In short: How certain by-products of fatty acid digestion (e.g. calcium palmitate) can have a negative effect on the development of certain microbiota in the intestines of an infant and how replacement with OPO fats can improve it. In the future, such insights can be used to further optimize products and positively influence the bacterial composition in the intestinal tract.
The total research project in collaboration with Ausnutria lasted 3.5 years. The first results have been published in the MicrobiologyOpen, The effect of calcium palmitate on bacteria associated with infant gut microbiota and can be read here
Tao and Randolph look back on a pleasant collaboration with Lu and the University of Groningen. “As an organization we have a social responsibility to support students in their education and research. As a company and as an R&D department, we really want to be involved in the progress of the research. We visited Groningen regularly to discuss the progress and Lu and her supervisors visited Ausnutria to present updates within the Research team.”
With the collaboration, Ausnutria not only increases its scientific footprint, but also helps promising students take the first steps on their scientific career path. After receiving her PhD, Lu hopes to start her professional career at a dairy company, focusing on infant nutrition to further optimize infant formula. You can download the research paper here
Title: The effect of calcium palmitate on bacteria associated with infant gut microbiota
Authors: Lu Wang, Gabriela Bravo-Ruiseco, Randolph Happe, Tao He, Jan Maarten van Dijl, Hermie J.M. Harmsen