The key themes for the IPA World Congress + Probiota 2023 were:
- The State of the Industry: The pandemic boosted interest in all things microbiome-related, with many companies reporting record sales as consumers sought out products to support their immune systems, help manage stress, and improve their overall health. But what happened during 2022, how has Brexit changed the landscape, and what can we expect in 2023? This session will also explore the regulatory landscape across Europe for probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics, and how this may impact the market over the next 12–18 months.
- Prebiotics, Synbiotics & Postbiotics: Probiotics are the most established category for microbiome enhancement for health, but other categories are growing, including prebiotics, synbiotics and postbiotics. This session will explore each of these microbiome modulators, with a focus on human milk oligosaccharides (prebiotics), synbiotic mechanisms of action, and explore the challenges around consensus definitions for postbiotics.
- The Phage opportunity: The biodiversity of the human gut is significant, including bacteria and fungi, but the gut also contains hundreds of thousands of viruses called bacteriophages, which can modulate the gut microbiota by targeting undesirable bacteria. Recent studies have also revealed correlations between specific phages and health endpoints like cognitive function and memory in humans. Phage-based ingredients are still in their infancy, but could become a powerful weapon in the arsenal for microbiome modulation for health and wellness.
- The Gut-brain axis: The microbiota-gut-brain axis, that bi-directional interaction between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system, has created numerous opportunities to impact mental health, mood, sleep, stress management, cognitive performance, and much more. This session will search for answers to a number of questions, including what the science actually says. We’ll hear from Nestle and Unilever on their interest in this space, and we’ll also explore how Probiotics may be therapeutics for neurodegeneration.
- Personalisation - The opportunities and the knowledge gaps: Everyone’s microbiome is as unique as their own fingerprints, so it seems logical that we could have personalised interventions - prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics, etc - tailored for the individual. How is the market approaching this currently? What does the science say about personalised probiotics and prebiotics? Are enough consumers willing to pay for this knowledge? How is the athletic community approaching these possibilities? What’s next for this blossoming category? This session will seek to answer these questions and more.
- Microbiome modulation for athletic performance: We know that the microbiome of elite athletes is different from non-athletes, but what can we learn to modulate the microbiome to boost performance and recovery in non-athletes? This session will look at the science to date, explore the potential to mine the microbiomes of elite athletes for next-generation probiotics and postbiotics, and consider the wider role of microbiome analysis and modulation in elite sports.
- Pharmabiotics: With immense interest and investment in approaches to modifying the microbiome to treat disease and health conditions, there are significant opportunities for microbiome-based drug products. But where are the bottlenecks in the development? Which health conditions or diseases are attracting the most interest? Where are we on the R&D pipelines? And what lessons can we learn from the investment community about these discoveries?