This APC theme addresses the communication between the brain and gut and how it can be influenced by the gastrointestinal microbiota. This is an area of significance in infancy, where important links between diet, microbes and cognition are established. The influence of the microbiota on obesity and metabolic syndrome are also increasingly recognised. The APC Microbiome Institute has made significant contributions in this area, which represents a real opportunity for foods designed for cognition, infant brain development, functional gastrointestinal disorders and for healthy ageing, which are significant growth areas for healthcare and food companies. Microorganisms, or microbial components, have a role in either causing or preventing these conditions. A better understanding of the role of this axis in the stress response, and its links with other debilitating conditions, such as anxiety, stress, depression, autism spectrum disorders, obesity and IBS will provide new treatment and management strategies. These will represent opportunities for both the food ingredients business and the pharmaceutical industry.
Outputs from this theme will include new food ingredients or biotherapeutics which are designed to influence the microbiota in order to improve various aspects of mental health.