The importance of bacterial behavior - Chr. Hansen engages in global research for new and improved functional food products for the future

The human body contains more bacterial cells than human cells, and the diversity of the bacteria is vast. If we could fully understand how the bacteria behave and interact with the human body, we could develop products and eating patterns to improve the general wellness of the world’s population and prevent diseases. This area of research is part of the rapidly growing scientific discipline known as nutrigenomics, and it is not science fiction.

“Over the last 10 years, we have done research on the genes of lactic acid bacteria and their interactions in either fermentors, used to produce cultures for e.g. for yoghurt production, or further into the human body. The results will give our customers the benefits of a more consistent and thereby cost-efficient production, and the global consumers are sure to get what they pay for. When they for instance buy a probiotic yoghurt, they can trust that the probiotic cells are capable of providing the health benefit mentioned on the label,” explains Eric Johansen, PhD, Associate VP, Science, Chr. Hansen.

The company is involved in several international research projects on genomics and nutrigenomics and 7% of the Innovation organization is working full time within this field. On May 30, Dr. Johansen speaks at an international conference on Functional foods and Nutrigenomics at Hotel Munkebjerg in Vejle, Denmark.

Understanding probiotics
“I will talk about the genomics of probiotic microorganisms. At the moment we know that probiotic products work, but we need more research to find out exactly how. When we understand the bacterial genes better, it will help Chr. Hansen develop more effective products and allow us humans to make better, individual food choices. And it could be the answer to problems with weight management in the developed countries or a better nutritional supply to developing countries,” Dr. Johansen says.

The organizer of the conference in Vejle is the Danish Biotechnological Society. The chairman of the organization, Steen Gammeltoft, MD, Department Head,
Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Glostrup Hospital, explains the overall aim of the conference as such:” The conference focus on research in functional foods and nutrigenomics and application in health and disease. Leading international researchers from universities and private companies present their results in this rapidly developing field. During the two-day conference the participants can make important contacts for establishing future cooperation. A number of young scientists may benefit from the educational aspects and recruitment opportunities during the conference”.

Shop by genoptype
The focus on genomics and nutrigenomics is mainly in the US and Europe but the benefits will reach globally.

“It is not at all farfetched to imagine that within some years you could download your personal genotype onto your mobile phone and use it to scan the barcodes in the supermarket and make sure that you only buy what is healthy for precisely your body,” Dr. Johansen concludes.

The final program of the conference is available on-line at The program book with the abstracts of speaker and poster presentations is not yet published, but can be requested by contact to Ms. Kristine Ahrensbach, Chr. Hansen.

About Chr. Hansen
Chr. Hansen is a global biotechnology company that provides ingredients to the food, dairy, human health and nutrition and animal health industries. The company is a leading supplier of cultures, probiotics, enzymes and natural colors, which are applied in foods and beverages, dietary supplements, and agricultural products.
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