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Centering microbiome research
RHEINBREITBACH, Germany—Jennewein Biotechnologie announced yesterday that on June 15th the company signed a long-term lease for a 1000m2 plot of land on Mildred-Scheel-Straße, Bonn Bad Godesberg, which will be the site of a new R&D center for microbiome research and designer microorganisms.
“The relocation of part of our research department, from its home of many years in Rheinbreitbach, to Bonn Bad Godesberg, was necessary because of the strong growth our company has enjoyed over the past few years, and the lack of space now available for additional research activities,” explained Dr. Katja Parschat, Deputy Head of R&D at Jennewein Biotechnologie. The company plans to invest around 3.6 million euros in a new laboratory facility, and the employees of the Metabolic Engineering Division are set to move to Bonn in October of this year. In the medium term, the R&D center will accommodate 30-40 research scientists.
The new R&D center will continue to develop the company’s successful research on metabolic engineering, focusing on designer microorganisms and particularly on new technologies for the creation of organisms with synthetic genomes. Jennewein Biotechnologie has been a leader in metabolic engineering and genome modification for many years.
“Extending the genome engineering work we began in 2005 to embrace synthetic and rationally designed genomes is a logical step on the way to designer organisms, which will enable us to increase the yields of our products and save on costs,” said Dr. Stefan Jennewein, CEO of Jennewein Biotechnologie. “This is especially important in order to remain competitive in the long term and to maintain our leading position on the international stage.”
This R&D center will also expand the company’s microbiome research activities and strengthen its expertise. Jennewein Biotechnologie recently launched the world’s first clinical study to investigate the development of the infant microbiome and the impact of breastfeeding and human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). This study is still ongoing, and currently involves 300 babies in Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain.
HMOs are complex sugar molecules that are only present in breast milk. Excluding water, they are the third most abundant constituent of human milk after fats and lactose. More than 200 structurally different HMOs have been identified. The most abundant HMO is 2′-fucosyllactose, which is produced by about 80% of all lactating mothers at concentrations of up to 2 g/L. Scientific studies have shown that HMOs, and 2′-fucosyllactose in particular, have a positive impact on infant development. HMOs are prebiotic, i.e. they specifically promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms, and at the same time they inhibit the growth of pathogens by directly and indirectly preventing colonization. Jennewein Biotechnologie launched 2′-fucosyllactose onto the global baby food market in 2015, and several infant milk formulas around the world now contain 2′-fucosyllactose (e.g. Abbott Similac).
“Microbiomes are everywhere and we’re constantly interacting with them,” noted Jennewein. “Although not much is yet known about the relationship between microbiomes and allergies, autism, obesity and other diseases, the microbiome definitely plays an important role in infant development. And this isn’t just limited to the intestinal microbiome. We see great potential in products which promote what we call the healthy microbiome, especially in the area of infant and toddler nutrition.”