A new project comprising thirty organisations from fifteen countries has started working together to study the microorganisms in our intestines and the role they play in health, well-being, and how they can help prevent diet- and brain-related diseases. The project receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program and has partners from EU and non-EU countries.
Gut microbiota are the microbe populations living in our intestines, which contain trillions of microorganisms, including at least one thousand different species of bacteria. Altogether, the microbiota can weigh up to two kilograms. One third of our gut microbiota is common across most people, while two thirds are specific to each of us. In other words, the microbiota in your intestine is analogous to a personal identity card.
“Our challenge is to provide a proof of concept that dietary interventions with food and ingredients designed to modulate the gut microbiota can contribute to controlling and reducing the incidence of diet-related diseases, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and behavioural disorders – epidemics in our developed society,” said Yolanda Sanz, MyNewGut’s project coordinator.
MyNewGut, officially launched in December 2013 is a five-year multidisciplinary project studying the gut microbiota, its genome (or microbiome) and their roles in human physiology. Organisations around the world have been working in this field for many years. But, this is the first time an EU-supported initiative has brought together such a unique consortium of world-leading experts from various scientific and industrial disciplines, in order to investigate the microbiome’s influence on human health and disease.
This project has started building on its interdisciplinary strategy, which contrasts the usually fragmented and individual research approach in this field. It aims to coordinate and gather the work of experts in brain research, computational modelling, immunology, microbiology, nutrition, physiology, and omics-technologies such as metagenomics and metabolomics.
MyNewGut plans to make basic human microbiome science useful for promoting healthier lifestyles to the public in Europe and beyond. Its main objectives are:
- Investigate the role of the gut microbiome and its specific components in nutrient metabolism and energy balance.
- Understand the influence of environmental factors on the gut microbiome, in pregnancy and during a baby’s development, and its impact on brain, immune system and metabolic health.
- Identify specific gut microbiome components and associated metabolic functions that contribute to and predict obesity, eating disorders and co-morbidities.
- Develop new food ingredients and food prototypes – by collaborating with EU food industry – that target the gut ecosystem and contribute to reducing the risks of metabolic- and brain-related disorders.
Engaging with policy makers, the scientific community, food industry, the media and public is a key focus of the project. The MyNewGut website provides information about the project’s goals, and media including a project leaflet, infographic, newsletters and up-to-date news.
These materials offer an easily understandable snapshot of the project’s progress and are available to download and share with your colleagues, students or friends.
The MyNewGut project’s website is www.mynewgut.eu.