The human microbiome is a complex microbial ecosystem that lives in and on us. The numbers defining it are staggering: trillions of microbial cells, thousands of microbial species, millions of microbial genes that result in the production of hundreds of thousands of metabolites with up to 30% of the metabolites in the blood absorbed from the microbes in the gut.
Over the past 10 years, there has been an increasing amount of evidence linking the microbiome composition, and its resulting metabolic activity, to human health. Indeed, it has been shown that a balanced and diverse microbiome is linked to low intestinal and systemic inflammation, a well-functioning immune system and to overall health and wellness. Conversely, a state of dysbiosis is generally characterized by a low diversity of microbiota and linked to intestinal and systemic inflammation, which, in turn, reinforces the state of dysbiosis. This is possibly a root cause of many of the chronic illnesses that have emerged in the past decades ranging from allergies, asthma, and diabetes to mood disorders, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
The DuPont Human Microbiome Venture
Building on its leadership position in probiotics, DuPont launched the Human Microbiome Venture at the end of 2017 to secure its next growth platform and stay at the forefront of biotechnology innovation. More specifically, the Human Microbiome Venture aims to develop the next generation of microbiome solutions to tackle illnesses and address unmet needs. DuPont solutions will combine highly innovative microbes and molecules modulating the microbiota, like the recently launched Human Milk Oligosaccharide (HMO), with diagnostic and digital tools to ultimately tailor products to consumer needs and maximize efficacy.
DuPont has a long history of resolving some of the world’s greatest challenges through innovation, and the Human Microbiome Venture is no different. It has one ambitious vision: to transform the way we manage health, nutrition and wellness across six prioritized areas of human health:
- Mother and infant health focusing on establishing or potentially restoring and ultimately maintaining a healthy microbiome early in life
- Gut health
- Brain health
- Metabolic health
- Nasal and respiratory
Core capabilities and opportunities
Underpinning its innovation in the field of the microbiome, DuPont has world-leading capabilities in microbial biotechnology, large scale fermentation, health and nutrition sciences, pharmaceutical excipient sciences and formulation.
Additionally, DuPont is one of the few players substantiating its probiotic and other health ingredients with strong scientific and clinical evidence. It has run well over 100 clinical trials on probiotics and has 25 clinical trials currently ongoing. DuPont runs its clinical trials according to Good Clinical Practice.
With more than USD 2 billion invested globally over the last decade in microbiome innovation, DuPont recognized early that it could not win only by leveraging its internal innovation capabilities and that it would need to leverage external partnerships to i) complement and build on its internal capabilities, ii) access faster technology platforms adjacent to its core capabilities and, iii) share technical and financial risks with strategic partners on product development.
Therefore, the DuPont Human Microbiome Venture has a strong focus on external partnerships with leading academic institutions, startups and global firms in healthcare. Since its launch last year, the Microbiome Venture has announced three significant partnerships:
- An early stage discovery collaboration with the APC Microbiome Institute in Ireland, focused on the microbiome in early life;
- A partnership with INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) MetaGenoPoliS to determine the molecular mechanisms of action of probiotic strains using a functional metagenomics approach;
- A collaboration with the TFTAK Centre for Food & Fermentation Technology in Estonia to develop the cultivation and bioprocesses needed to scale-up next generation probiotics.
These partnerships are complementing a strong internal pipeline of R&D programs like, for example, the development of DuPont’s next generation probiotics.
Meet Sebastien Guery, Human Microbiome Venture Leader at BIO-Europe, November 5–7, 2018, in Copenhagen, to learn more about the Venture goals and collaboration plans as it advances microbiome-based solutions.