The intestinal microbiota plays a role in metabolic, nutritional, physiological and immunological processes in the human body. The collective genome of the intestinal microbiota outnumbers our human genes.
Major recent efforts have been made to better understand the complexity, diversity, and function of this “extra organ”, especially with respect to metabolism. Numerous pathways involved in the metabolism of energy, amino acids, carbohydrates and vitamins have been found to be associated in the microbiota, and it has been shown that these pathways influence human health.
A more detailed understanding of what certain bacteria can actually do in the gut, gives rise to the possibility to target these processes in very direct ways. For instance, certain probiotic strains have been shown to be able to produce vitamins (B-group and K2). This suggests that next generation probiotics might be able to influence not only the composition of the gut, but also the functional (metabolic) activity of the microbiota itself.
Winclove is currently investigating how such metabolites of probiotic strains can directly influence the human host to be beneficial beyond the gut (eg. cardiovascular, bones, skin, and the brain) and also how the functional properties of next generation probiotics could positively benefit the microbiome and human health.