The Food and Drink iNet is backing a research project which is delving into how probiotics work in the gut.

A team at The University of Nottingham is investigating the optimum way of carrying and releasing probiotics – substances containing live microorganisms that claim to be beneficial to humans by restoring the balance of microflora in the digestive tract.

The research aims to pinpoint how effectively probiotics work when in the gut, obtain proof that they are effective, and to look at whether probiotics could become part of everyday foods such as bread.

Now the Food and Drink iNet, which encourages innovation in the food and drink sector, is backing the work with a £39,500 grant, and hoping that the results of the study could bring key benefits to the food and drink sector in the East Midlands.

The team is also looking for an industrial partner to join the consortium to add value to the project by producing food products which contain probiotics for testing via the developed device.

The potential partner would need to have an interest in developing a probiotic food product, and would be expected to help develop the food ingredients and conduct factory/pilot scale trials in preparation for clinical trials.

The project could be suitable for a range of different food products as the collaborators are actively interested to identifying novel applications.

“This research has great potential for local businesses because it will help to identify an effective probiotics delivery method and should provide substantiated evidence that probiotics are effectively delivered to the gut, which will mean that manufacturers can use this information to substantiate claims on their packaging and marketing material,” said Food and Drink iNet director Richard Worrall.

“Ultimately it may help manufacturers to add probiotics to a range of different products, which could help to improve the nation’s gut health.”

The project is being led by Dr Ian Fisk, a lecturer in food chemistry at The University of Nottingham, who is working with a range of different collaborators.

“Once the initial part of the research has been carried out, a number of small and medium-sized businesses in the East Midlands will be invited to trial the use of probiotics in their products,” said Richard Worrall.

Dr Fisk said: “It is envisaged that this research will generate increased revenue for the East Midlands and the UK, enhance the training of key skilled workers within the project and through dissemination contribute to a healthier society and a more sustainable UK economy. We are grateful for the Food and Drink iNet support.”

The team is currently looking for an industrial partner that can offer an ‘in–kind’ contribution of up to £50,000 in return for a small grant to the partner of £5,000. The contribution can comprise time, access to pilot facilities, the use of equipment or other types of investment.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), The Food and Drink iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands.

It has developed an effective network to encourage the collaboration of academic expertise and knowledge, and local food and drink business innovation needs.

It aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes.

The Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by The Food and Drink Forum and including Nottingham Trent University, The University of Lincoln, and The University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.

Interested industrial partners should contact Jo Murphy at the iNet via

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