Unilever and Holobiome to collaborate on gut-brain axis

7-Jan-2022

Using its discovery platform to map the microbiome and its influences, Holobiome has identified key bacteria that appear to communicate to the brain via neurotransmitter signalling in the gut

Unilever has partnered with the gut microbiome specialist, Holobiome to identify food and drink ingredients that could have a positive impact on mental wellbeing by targeting the gut-brain axis.

Many scientists now consider the gut microbiome an essential organ, the companies say, with 70% of the immune system existing in the gut, and 90% of the body’s mood elevating serotonin produced there.

Using its discovery platform to map the microbiome and its influences, Holobiome has identified key bacteria that appear to communicate to the brain via neurotransmitter signalling in the gut.

This research partnership aims to identify food ingredients that interact with these bacteria, with a long-term ambition to enhance these ingredients in certain foods and refreshment products across Unilever’s portfolio to naturally boost levels of certain calming neurotransmitters in the gut, in turn improving mental wellbeing.

The screening process will seek ingredients that have a prebiotic potential. Many ingredients used in Unilever’s products, such as dietary fibres and some polyphenols, are classified as prebiotics. This research is expected to continue over the next year with findings expected by the end of 2022.

Carla Hilhorst, Executive VP R&D Foods & Refreshment at Unilever said: “Through our partnership with Holobiome, we look forward to understanding more about the way ingredients interact with the gut microbiome. This research offers exciting opportunities for our future food and drink formulations enabling us to deliver boldly healthier products.”

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Philip Strandwitz, Holobiome CEO and co-founder said, “If we can map this out at an individual ingredient level, there’s an opportunity to make more informed dietary choices and improve health via multiple marketplaces. Our platform – powered by our Human Microbiome Atlas, which contains nearly all known members of the gut microbiome – allows us to make this map for specific functions related to the gut-brain-axis. We’re excited to work with Unilever and help explore the future of food.”

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