The field of microbiome research has evolved rapidly in recent decades and has become a topic of great scientific and public interest.
The human microbiome, with around 100 trillion microbes, is the genetic material of all microbes - bacteria, fungi and viruses - found in or on the body. most of which live in our intestines.
Advances in genome sequencing technologies and metagenomic analysis (genetic study of genomes taken directly from environmental samples) have enabled scientists to study microbes and their function and to research host-microbiome interactions in both health and disease. .
The microbiota it is a set of different microorganisms that live in the same habitat, such as the human intestine, soil, animals or plants.
The microbiome instead it refers to the set of genes that are represented in the microbiota.
Microorganisms perform many essential functions in the food chain as well.
A correct modulation of the microbiome of the various sectors of the food chain could guarantee a more productive, healthier, resilient and sustainable supply chain, but to do this it is necessary to acquire new knowledge through investments in research and innovation.
The action plan for the industrial implementation of the Italian microbiome initiative
In Italy, a group of experts identified by National Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences (CNBBSV) of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, in 2018 he prepared a document of insight into the potential role of microbiomes in agri-food systems and human health.
More recently he promoted the preparation of the "Action plan for the industrial implementation of the Italian initiative on the microbiome for the improvement of human health and agri-food production " in close collaboration with the national technological clusters ALISEI and CL.AN and 16 of the most important Italian industries in the health and agri-food sector, for the industrial implementation of the Italian initiative on the microbiome for the improvement of human health and agri-food production.
The microbiome for the improvement of human health and agri-food production: the Italian action plan presented at Expo 2020 Dubai
On the occasion of the thematic week of Expo 2020 Dubai dedicated to food, running until February 27, today in the Italian Pavilion, on National Technology Cluster Life Sciences Trade winds and the National Agrifood Cluster CL.AN. analyzed the topic of the microbiome for sustainable economic growth of the Italian agri-food sector based on research and innovation.
With the aim of offering a global platform for a debate on the new frontiers of progress in human and agri-food research, the representatives of the institutions and the business community present at the forum "The Importance of Microbiome for improved Human Health and Agro-food production", have given their contribution to focus attention on the topic of the microbiome.
The event saw the presence of speakers and industry experts with an international profile. They moderated the workshop, divided into two sessions, Patrizia Brigidi, Full Professor of "Biotechnology of Fermentation" at the University of Bologna and Vice President of the Presidency Council of the National Agrifood Cluster CL.AN and Enzo Grossi, Scientific Consultant of the ALISEI National Technology Cluster for Life Sciences, Doctor, scientist and researcher with long experience in Clinical and Pharmaceutical Medicine, Applied Mathematics and Computational Medicine.
The forum was attended by: Fabio Fava, Full Professor of “Industrial and Environmental Biotechnologies” at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna and member of the National Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences (CNBBSV) of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Jeroen Raes, Full Professor at KU Leuven and group leader VIB; Fabio Pace, Professor at the University of Milan and Director of the Gastrointestinal Unit, "Bolognini" Hospital of Seriate, Marco Gobbetti Full Professor of Food Microbiology and member of the Italian Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences appointed by the Council of Ministers; Pietro Grossi, Innovation Advisor and Director of the Microbiome Corporate R&D platform - Alfasigma SpA - Italy and Dr. Gilberto Litta, Global manager, Vitamins Nutrition and Animal Health of the DSM.
During the forum, the action plan for the industrial implementation of the Italian initiative on the microbiome promoted by the CNBBSV of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers was presented in close collaboration with the national technological clusters ALISEI and CL.AN and 16 of the most important Italian industries in the healthcare and agri-food sector.
“On the subject of the microbiome, Italy has a great potential but lags behind Europe due to a fragmentation among scientists and little transfer of knowledge to the industrial sector. For this reason, we have started a process with the Alisei Cluster and the National Agrifood Cluster precisely to allow and facilitate greater interconnection between research activities and the transfer of knowledge and to be more present in Brussels ". He told al Journal of Italian Healthcare World Professor Fabio Fava, Full Professor of “Industrial and Environmental Biotechnologies” at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna and member of the National Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences (CNBBSV) of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
"Italy is one of the 4 countries in Europe that has launched a dedicated national initiative and an industrial implementation plan on the microbiome for the improvement of human health and agri-food production - he added - The Action Plan also includes indications from all the main Italian industrial associations. The two National Technological Clusters then selected top-level industrial realities, already involved in the microbiome, which contributed to the drafting of the document ".
Italy is therefore one of the few countries that has paid attention to the microbiome at the international level. “Our strategy - concluded the professor broad bean - it has been shared with the European Commission and FAO and is often mentioned by the two organizations. FAO has also included us in their Microbiome Working Group. We are working on the adoption of the priorities of the implementation plan by the ministries of our country ".
In recent years, research on the microbiome has become a topic of great scientific and public interest because "having realized that the human being is actually a super organism, in which microbes predominate over human cells, is a very important interpretative key for many chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative ones such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's ”, explained al Journal of Italian Healthcare World the professor Enzo Grossi, Scientific Consultant of the ALISEI National Technology Cluster for Life Sciences, Doctor, scientist and researcher.
The debate on the importance of the microbiome for the improvement of health, already addressed at Milan Expo 2015, at Expo 2020 Dubai "has given an additional perspective by sharing this interest also with the agri-food sector", added Professor Big.
Knowledge, research and innovation of the microbiome is essential for the development of a safer, more productive and sustainable food system. This is part of a holistic global vision with the interconnection between human, animal and environmental health through a multidisciplinary research program: the so-called “One Health” approach.
"Today we know that there is no life form on earth that is not colonized by complex and dynamic microbial communities." He told al Journal of Italian Healthcare World Patrizia Brigidi, Full Professor of "Biotechnology of Fermentation" at the University of Bologna and Vice President of the Presidency Council of the National Agrifood Cluster CL.AN
"The relationship between the microbiota and the host, in addition to man, also affects the food chain - he added - If the microbial communities that colonize plants or animals do it correctly, it will be possible to increase agri-food productivity in a way that healthier and more sustainable. In this process, attention must be paid to the nutritional and health profile of the food because human health is at the center. We are what we eat ".
When it comes to healthy and sustainable nutrition, it is impossible not to mention the Mediterranean diet, recognized in 2010 as an intangible heritage of humanity, which with its macro and micro-nutrients "supports the correct balance of the intestinal microbiome", underlined the professor Brigidi.
The Italian agri-food sector for sustainable economic growth plays a key role in the action plan presented during the workshop. "The National Agrifood Cluster represents the largest Italian food companies and there is a great interest, on the part of all, to invest in this area to improve primary production and the transformation process".
From a medical point of view, the ALISEI National Technology Cluster for Life Sciences, leader in the interaction between the multidisciplinary research system, the pharmaceutical-biomedical industrial fabric and public institutions in the health sector, has brought two wait.
“The first - he explained Big - is how the intervention of the microbiome can save lives in patients affected by colitis from Clostridium difficile, through fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), a method that eliminates pathogenic microorganisms from the intestine by re-establishing a healthy microbial community. This approach is now also used for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The second aspect concerns the relationship between the microbiome and the techniques based on artificial intelligence for the development of precision medicine ”.
At the end of our meeting, we talked about the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on research into the microbiome.
"There has been a strong implementation with investments for the study of the complexity and severity of Covid-19 disease as there have been several forms of Covid-19 accompanied by intestinal problems - said the professor. Patrizia Brigidi - We are involved in a large European project - where the possible correlation between the intestinal and respiratory microbiome and Covid-19 disease is being studied ”.