What's the benefit? It is a common question when it comes to fundamental scientific research. Lubbert Dijkhuizen does not answer the question himself. He lets the results speak. The professor of microbiology at the University of Groningen found a way to involve companies in the research without losing independence.
"We are scientists. Those companies do not interfere with our research. But they are interested in it. That's why they pay for it." That's how simple it is. In 10 years, research could be done for 30 million euros. Parties like Friesland Campina, Danone, Cosun, Agrifirm, Aviko and Avebe want to know everything from what the researchers find. Who are looking for carbohydrates, looking for new features, adjust them to do other things. And that, for example, produces better food. And better health. Exactly what society wants and the companies too.
Probiotica versus antibiotica
Neem nou antibiotica, objecten van een nieuw groot onderzoek van het CCC. ,,Ons lichaam zit vol met goede bacteriën. Een kilo per persoon, welgeteld. Ze zorgen voor een goede spijsvertering, voor gezonde ecosystemen van de huid, de maag en nog veel meer. Maar antibiotica maakt geen onderscheid tussen goede en slechte bacteriën. Daar moeten we dus iets mee. We onderzoeken manieren om probiotica beter toe te passen.’’Het onderzoek richt zich op de toepassing van koolhydraten waarvan bekend is dat ze een positieve uitwerking hebben op die goede bacteriën. Ze stimuleren de aanmaak van goede bacteriën in de darmen, of ze zorgen ervoor dat de bacteriestand sneller herstelt na de toediening van antibiotica. ,,De vraag is dan. Moet je die koolhydraten tijdens of na de antibiotica toedienen? Daar denken we ook over.’’
Probiotics versus antibiotics
Now take antibiotics, objects of a new major investigation of the CCC (Carbohydrate Competence Center, establised by Dijkhuizen). "Our body is full of good bacteria. One kilo per person. They provide good digestion, for healthy ecosystems of the skin, the stomach and more. But antibiotics do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria. So we have something to do with that. We investigate ways to better apply probiotics. "The research focuses on the application of carbohydrates that are known to have a positive effect on those good bacteria. They stimulate the production of good bacteria in the intestines, or they help to restore the bacterial state faster after the administration of antibiotics. "The question is then. Do you have to give those carbohydrates during or after the antibiotics? We think about that too. ''
Health is an umbrella theme for the CCC researchers. Thus they applied carbohydrates to starch so that they were no longer broken into the mouth, but only in the intestines. The result: the potato eater gets much less calories. "We have modified the molecules so that the enzymes in our mouth can not break them. So they stay very close to the intestines, where many stronger enzymes live. Sugar is also a hot item. "That is actually a compound of glucose and fructose molecules. The enzymes we employ change the glucose polymers of shape. As a result, after eating, you have the feeling that you have a full stomach. "" A biological gastric band based on modified carbohydrates thus.
Better baby milk powder
The dairy industry is looking forward to the CCC's research into breast milk replacements. "Baby milk powder consists predominantly of so-called oligosaccharides. The industry extracts about forty kinds of whey of milk. But in breast milk we have identified more than 200 species that all do something positive for the bacteria in babies. We are now working to increase the diversity of those good substances in baby milk powder. Our scientists work with enzymes to design new molecules. '' It seems obvious that big groups contribute to those researches. "But we keep pace with the fundamental research. How to make products that must identify the R & D departments of the companies themselves. But this collaboration has resulted in many innovations. Patents also, who always stay with the research institutes.
Groningen Carbohydrate Capital
Groningen is called the Netherlands carbohydrate capital. This has to do with the presence in the immediate vicinity of large amounts of potatoes and sugar beet, and the huge dairy cattle. But also by the large industry around it. And because of the many breakthroughs in recent years by the CCC.
This unique combination forms the basis of the CCC. Companies and farmers seek ways to appreciate their products. The researchers seek support to do their work. It works. This way of public-private cooperation is becoming increasingly popular in the country. It may be the answer to the falling subsidies for basic scientific research.
The Carbohydrate Competence Center is a Groningen-based collaboration between 19 companies and 6 knowledge institutions throughout the Netherlands. In more than twenty different projects, research is carried out on carbohydrates that play an important role in health and nutrition.