BASF and UC Davis collaborating to unlock new potential in human milk oligosaccharides

ASF and UC Davis collaborating to unlock new potential in human milk oligosaccharides

Top left to right: Marianne Heer (BASF), Anita Oberbauer (UC Davis), David Mills (UC Davis), Yan Qin (BASF), Helen Raybould (UC Davis), Daniela Barile (UC Davis), Yoram Barak (BASF), Bruce German (UC Davis), Xi Chen (UC Davis)
Lower left to right: Prasant Mohapatra (UC Davis), Benjamin Knudsen (BASF), Ahmad Hakim-Elahi (UC Davis), Stefan Rüdenauer (BASF), Dushyant Pathak (UC Davis)

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis), and BASF announced a collaboration to unlock new benefits of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). The long-term objective of this strategic research partnership is to develop and validate second-generation HMO molecules as potent bioactive compounds that can influence the establishment and maintenance of the gut microbiome and provide benefits beyond the gastrointestinal tract, such as brain health, for infants, children and adults.

Human milk contains a multitude of HMOs, a class of indigestible carbohydrates that is gaining recognition for a variety of health-promoting activities. Substantial evidence demonstrates that the high diversity of structures and concentration of HMOs in human milk contribute to improved health outcomes associated with breastfeeding.

“This collaboration is an essential cornerstone of our strategic initiative to become a leading science-based player in the fields of HMO and microbiome,” said Stefan Rüdenauer, director of Development and Scientific Marketing Human Nutrition at BASF.

The two-year partnership with UC Davis’ research team is part of BASF’s California Research Alliance (CARA), which brings together experts from major universities on the West Coast to collaborate on new materials and their applications, biosciences and related technologies.

“We are pleased to see this expansion to our existing collaborative engagement with BASF via the CARA network,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for Technology Management & Corporate Relations in the UC Davis Office of Research. “BASF’s commitment to supporting innovation at UC Davis is resulting in direct benefit to our faculty researchers, to the company, to the region and to society at large through helping us realize societal benefit from cutting-edge university research.”

Professors Daniela Barile, David Mills, Helen Raybould, Xi Chen, and Bruce German from the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis will use their collective expertise to reveal new applications for HMOs. BASF’s contributions to the partnership include its proficiency in fermentation products and the development of human nutrition solutions, as well as project funding.

“We are excited to partner with BASF to unlock novel HMO functionalities,” said Professor Barile. “This project will employ a range of microbiological and physiological studies employing cutting-edge glycomics and metagenomics tools to explore how HMOs interact with the human host and the microbes within them.”

About BASF

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has more than 18,200 employees in North America, and had sales of $17.9 billion in 2017. For more information about BASF’s North American operations, visit

About CARA

The California Research Alliance (CARA) is one of four BASF scientific excellence clusters that collaborate with research groups on a regional level, maintaining a network between BASF, the campuses of the University of California system, Stanford and Caltech. The researchers at CARA work in a variety of scientific disciplines including new materials, biosciences, formulations, and catalysis, as well as computational and engineering disciplines.

The CARA collaboration, started in 2014 with 10 postdoctoral positions, has been extended to approximately 50 postdoctoral positions today. CARA researchers have filed 10 patents, and have had more than 20 peer-reviewed papers accepted or published. In addition, the first research projects have already been transferred to BASF R&D for further development. Peidong Yang, CARA co-director and professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley, said, “With this newest collaboration, we now have multiple CARA research projects active between BASF, the UC campuses, Stanford, and Caltech. The broad research expertise represented by this vibrant West Coast scientific community will surely expedite the discovery process for many scientific and technological questions.”

Bifidobacteria Supplement Colonizes Gut of Breastfed Infants

Mother and infant

Original post:

Supplementing breastfed infants with activated Bifidobacterium infantis (B. infantis) bacteria had a positive impact on babies’ gut microbes for up to a year, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Evolve BioSystems Inc. The work will be presented June 9 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston by Bethany Henrick, director of immunology and diagnostics at Evolve BioSystems, on behalf of the study co-investigator, Jennifer Smilowitz, associate director of human studies research at UC Davis’ Foods for Health Institute.

The presence of B. infantis in the intestines of infants is associated with health benefits, and these bacteria are nourished by breast milk. However, these beneficial bacteria are present at significantly lower levels in breastfed infants in developed countries than in developing countries.

Mothers and infants in the study received either a B. infantis preparation and lactation support, or lactation support alone, from seven to 21 days after birth. The bacteria quickly established themselves in the babies, crowding out other gut bacteria that are associated with intestinal problems and immune-related diseases such as asthma, allergy and autoimmune disease. Furthermore, supplementation with B. infantis also changed the biochemical composition of infant feces. These beneficial changes lasted for up to a year in babies that were primarily breastfed.

These results suggest a possible method to improve gut microbiome health and prevent immune-related diseases in breastfed infants in developed countries.

Read more…

Collaboration between UC Davis Foods for Health and Company Spin-off Evolve BioSystems Identifies Detrimental Generational Change in Gut Bacteria of Infants

Collaboration between UC Davis Foods for Health and Company Spin-off Evolve BioSystems Identifies Detrimental Generational Change in Gut Bacteria of Infants

Evolve BioSystems, Inc., a spin-off from the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute (FFHI) that is developing novel solutions to restore and maintain a healthy newborn gut microbiome, announced findings from new research that connects elevated infant fecal pH levels to a change in the infant gut microbiome. Their release states that over the past 100 years, the average pH of a baby’s stool, which can indicate the type of bacteria in the baby’s gut, has undergone an alarming increase from pH 5.0 to 6.5. The study, published in the American Society for Microbiology journal mSphere, connects this rise in pH to a generational loss of Bifidobacterium, a critical gut bacteria during infancy, and an accompanying increase in a number of harmful bacteria.

The team reviewed 14 clinical studies published between 1926 and 2017, identifying a change in pH from 5.0 to 6.5 over this time period. The authors attributed this trend to an observed reduction of Bifidobacterium in the infant gut, along with an increase in potentially harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Clostridia, resulting in “dysbiosis”, a potentially detrimental imbalance of the gut microbial ecosystem.

Evolve’s founding team, which includes UC Davis faculty members Bruce German, David Mills, Carlito Lebrilla and Daniela Barile, along with former FFHI Assistant Director Samara Freeman, has been conducting research at the forefront of infant nutritional health for over a decade, focusing on the key role that breast milk plays in creating a healthy intestinal tract.

The full release can be found here.