Public Private Partnership supports intestinal health in early life

Metabolic and immune health
28 February 2023

TNO, Mead Johnson Greater China, Adare Pharmaceuticals SAS and Schothorst Feed Research started a public private partnership. Project Fontanelle works on the solutions that contribute to long-term effects on (gut) health through the development of an integrated approach of in vitro, ex vivo and AI models to test the potential health benefits of specialised nutrition for infants and young piglets.

Early life nutrition

Early life nutrition is of vital importance for the gut and overall health in humans and animals. During this vulnerable period, the foundations of lifelong immune homeostasis and microbial colonisation, especially in the gastrointestinal tract, are established. Risk reduction measures or optimised diets during these early stages of life may be most effective and efficient for improving health, increasing quality of life, and lowering costs to society due to gut/immune-related diseases and disorders. However, there is room for improvement of the gut in early life and consequently overall health. This is what this partnership contributes to.

About project Fontanelle

1. Integrates in vitro and ex vivo model platforms

The partnership will address this window of opportunity through advanced integration of in vitro and ex vivo model platforms of the early life gastrointestinal tract, representing the main pillars of gut health:

  • gut physiology (incl. intestinal barrier function),
  • gut microbiome
  • gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) immune response.

The InTESTine™ and iScreen platform technologies, using fresh and early life gut tissue explants or infant microbial communities, respectively, will be adapted for the early life environment and used to study the effect of nutrients and bacteria on early life gut health.

2. Gut health space model: Apply Artificial Intelligence modelling to evaluate immune effects

Next, the project will apply predictive artificial intelligence (AI) modelling to evaluate potential systemic and local immune effects, using the outcomes of the in vitro and ex vivo model platforms. Moreover, all data will be integrated and subjected to state-of-the-art statistical analyses to generate a visualisation tool, the so called ‘gut health space model’, allowing to evaluate and visualise the gut health enhancing effects of early life nutrition.

This project will hence set-up a (prototype of a) novel integrated early life-specific in vitro, ex vivo and AI workflow to test and evaluate the potential health benefits of early life nutrition for infants and piglets and facilitate screening of solutions that contribute to long-lasting effects on gut health and overall well-being.

Do you want to learn more about this project? Contact Nicolette Pouw Duin

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