Call for partners: In-silico digestion of food and their metabolic responses

Experts in food digestion from WFBR and Wageningen University (Food Science) are calling for industrial partners for developing an in-silico digestion tool, which is a computer model describing digestion of food products and meals, containing (plant) proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, from oral processing to the large intestine, including its metabolic response after nutrient resorption in small intestine.

Research question

The in-silico tool is to complement existing in-vitro and in-vivo methodologies, and intends to integrate existing and new knowledge regarding the fate of nutrients during digestion of products and meals in order to answer societal and industrial relevant questions of effects of (new) food products on health aspects like glycaemic response, satiety, nutrient bioavailability and blood lipoprotein/cholesterol levels.

In-silico digestion of food and their metabolic responses

In particular we will focus on products rich in plant proteins. But, also their interaction with other meal components containing carbohydrates, fibers and lipids is important in the health aspects. Knowledge about effects of food structure on digestion is underdeveloped, and this will be investigated in detail within the project, and integrated in the in-silico tool. The tool will encompass the whole human digestive tract, and includes the metabolic responses after resorption in small intestine, and the biological feedback on secretion and emptying.

Project description

The project focusses on digestion of solid-like food products and meals, in particular plant-based foods rich in proteins, fibers and vegetable oil. The structure of these products modulate oral processing, and digestion in stomach, small and large intestine, resulting in a) delayed gastric emptying, b) reduced glycaemic response, c) improved uptake of essential nutrients, and d) effects on microbiome. With the computer model we answer the impact of food product composition and structure, as part of a meal, on the health of average consumers or specific target groups. The developed computer model will be integrated in a proper ICT platform for alignment with in-vivo and in-vitro studies, incorporation of existing knowledge and (future) contributions of third parties. Application of the in-silico tool to cases of industrial partners should give guide lines for product formulation and structure for improvement of their health effects.

The budget for this proposal is estimated to be 2.4M Euro. The above described projects are being developed for application to the TKI subsidy, a Dutch governmental program sponsoring applied research. Aiming for 6 partners each 25k€ annually cash and 25k€ in kind contribution. Granted projects receive 50% subsidy funding. The other 50% is contributed by industry partners, of which up to half (25% of total) may be in-kind.

This consortium is open for participation from ingredient companies, end product companies, and biotech companies. In return for in-cash and in-kind contributions to the project, partners can specify desired topics for research, and provide direction to the research activities. Unfortunately we are not able to reply to solicitations from research institutes or enquiries from students related to this project.