A worldwide network
Gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease are common. Some experts believe a lack of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut is partly to blame. These microbes also help us fight off infection, and are implicated in other processes including sleep and brain function. But to thrive they need a healthy gut environment.
Prebiotics are fuels for the good bacteria in our guts, allowing them to grow and multiply. Unlike probiotics (products that actually contain 'good' bacteria), prebiotics are unaffected by heat or the ravages of passing through our bodies.
Professor Gibson and the team at Reading have developed and manufactured a new prebiotic known as BiMuno. This is a type of molecule called a synthetic lactose-based oligosaccharide. After being eaten, it passes unchanged to the large intestine, where it is an energy source for beneficial saccharolytic bacteria. It specifically increases populations of a type of 'good' gut bacteria called colonic bifidobacteria.
Agrimetrics - advances development and adoption of new technologies in the agri-food sector, and provides expertise in areas such as data science and bioinformatics in crops, livestock, food and sustainability.
EIT Food - we are a leading partner of this 50-member EU-funded knowledge innovation community (KIC) aiming to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume food in Europe.
Institute for Environmental Analytics - develops the technologies and skills needed to translate environmental research into commercially relevant solutions to climate change.
Knowledge Transfer Centre - seeks opportunities for businesses to access to University of Reading research and resources in order to boost innovation in industry.
Thames Valley Clinical Trials Unit - a partnership with local NHS Trusts to bolster clinical research capability in the Thames Valley, benefiting patient health.
Thames Valley Science Park - provides support and specialist facilities to start-ups and larger companies in the Thames Valley among Europe's largest group of high-tech businesses.
Safer medical devices
A new family of biomaterials for use in medical devices has been created thanks to a collaboration between the University of Reading and BioInteractions Ltd.
The materials include a new agent to prevent a condition in which blood vessels narrow, leading to restricted blood flow.
BioInteractions wanted to develop a material which was biocompatible – not rejected or responded to by the body’s immune system body – and which could be applied to coatings of medical devices used internally. These devices include drug-eluting stents (scaffolds inserted into diseased blood vessels, which slowly release drugs to stop the vessel narrowing).
Working with Reading's Dr John McKendrick, Lecturer in Organic Chemistry, the company and University recruited a recent graduate as part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme. The graduate used their knowledge of polymer chemistry, experimenting with biocompatible materials and polymers to develop different blends that resulted in the new biomaterials.
The KTP has enabled us to develop new and innovative technologies, which have enhanced our product portfolio and increased the potential for new licensing opportunities.
We play a lead role in EIT Food, an EU Innovation programme to change the way we eat, grow and distribute food. The project aims to cut by half the amount of food waste in Europe within a decade, and reduce ill health caused by diet by 2030.
EIT Food is funded with 400 million euros (£340m) of EU research cash and matched by 1.2 billion euros (£1 billion) of funding from industry and other sources over seven years.
The Europe-wide scheme was put together by a partnership of 50 food business and research organisations from within Europe's food sector, which provides jobs for 44 million people.