ARC grant aims to improve viability of probiotics

24 March 2020
Researchers to develop a probiotic delivery system
A Faculty of Engineering team has been awarded almost $440,000 from the Australian Research Council to help improve the viability of probiotics, which currently lose their potency due to stomach acidity.
Milk inside a jar

From yoghurts and supplements to kombucha and capsules, in recent years probiotics have been gaining in popularity for their potential role in building friendly gut cultures.

Although widely recommended by health professionals for the symptomatic relief of chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions, current probiotics experience a significant loss in viability due to the acidic environment of the stomach.

A University of Sydney research team led by School of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering academic Professor Fariba Dehghani aims to develop a system that mitigates the effects of gastro-intestinal system on the probiotics.

“We hope the research will lead to an increased understanding of the factors affecting the viability of probiotics during both storage and passage through the gastro-intestinal tract, the establishment of probiotics into gut flora, and how this incorporation affects the dynamics of gut microbiota,” said Professor Dehghani, Director of the Centre for Advanced Food Enginomics

The project will generate the next generation of probiotics products and seeks to improve the competitiveness of the Australian probiotics industry.

“The acidic environment of the stomach can deplete the number of live probiotics reaching the colon," said Associate Professor Aaron Schindeler, a collaborator who will be conducting preclinical trials.

"Technology from Professor Dehghani’s team aims to protect probiotics in the stomach and target them to the colon through the design of a new method for colon targeted probiotic delivery.” 


The University of Sydney will partner with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (Westmead and Randwick hospitals), and Pharmacare.

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