Tuesday 23 January 2018

UCC granted €50m in research funding

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

THE ALIMENTARY Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) in University College Cork has been granted €50m worth of funding for research into stomach bacteria.

This will allow it to employ 109 researchers over the next six years.

The government will provide €36m of the funding through Science Foundation Ireland while another €14m will come from industry, including the centre’s spin-off company Alimentary Health, Kerry Group, Wyeth Nutrition, Second Genome, Trino Therapeutics and Sigmoid Pharma. 

The funding will support research into how bacteria in the human gut impacts on population health, leading to the development of new foods and medicines.

It is expected that the APC, a research hub founded in 2003, will also apply to the EU for further funding.

The centre is a collaboration between University College Cork, Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority and Cork Institute of Technology and several companies, which focuses on research in gastrointestinal health.

Thomson Reuters Science Watch has ranked University College Cork at number two in the world for probiotics research, mostly because of publications from researchers at the centre.

Its spin-off company Alimentary Health has already produced a probiotic health food product which has had major sales in North America.

 “Ten years ago we predicted that the microbes within the gut would be a source of new antibiotics, a source of biomarkers for risk of certain diseases, a regulator of immunity and even an influence on the brain and behaviour. We also predicted that this field would become one of the most relevant to human biology and to society. All of this has proven to be correct” said APC director Professor Fergus Shanahan yesterday. “As marvellous as the discovery of the human genetic code has been, the genetic messages contained within our microbes promise even greater advances for human health, veterinary medicine and for both the food and pharmaceutical industries in Ireland. The APC is particularly well suited to explore and exploit the mysteries of the human microbiome and can make this science deliver for our society and for our economy.”

“The agriculture sector is one of Ireland’s largest and most successful industries in Ireland. Food for health products are expected to have a global value of $176.7bn in 2013 and Ireland is uniquely positioned to capitalise on this growing sector” said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, announcing the award.

The APC has now been designated as a national centre for food and medicine research.

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