The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (IFNH) and ProDigest, a company that develops unique laboratory models of the complete gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals in Belgium, announced a new strategic collaboration in the area of “digestive health.” As part of this collaboration, ProDigest’s Simulator of Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME®) was recently installed in the IFNH’s modern research facility on the George H. Cook Campus at Rutgers.
The SHIME® is a sophisticated new technological platform for studying microbial, physical and chemical processes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Under controlled conditions, the system simulates the full GI tract, including stomach, small intestine and large intestine (i.e. ascending, transverse, descending colon). A highly versatile computer-operated system, SHIME® also allows researchers to conveniently withdraw samples for targeted analysis.
“We are excited about this new collaboration,” said Michael Chikindas, director of the IFNH Center for Digestive Health and professor of microbiology in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers. “The SHIME® was reported by several research groups as suitable for studying the utilization of biologically active substances, elucidating the biological transformations of bioactives and pharmaceuticals, evaluating the delivery kinetics of various substances entering the human body via the oral route and investigating the effect of various components (e.g. vitamins, prebiotics, functional and medical food bioactives) on the microbial community of the GI tract.”
The SHIME® system, which can be configured to model the GI tract of the human body from infancy to adulthood, will enable basic research into GI biology, physiology and digestive disorders. Such enabling technology accelerates translational research from the bench to the clinic and beyond, making it an important acquisition for Rutgers, explained George Carman, chief scientific officer at the IFNH and distinguished professor in the Department of Food Science.
“After visiting ProDigest in Belgium last year, I knew right away that we had to bring the SHIME® over to the IFNH and build strong ties with their research team.”
“The SHIME® system will expand our food and nutritional science research capabilities here at Rutgers and offer our students unique learning opportunities,” added Carman.
Co-founder and CEO of ProDigest Sam Possemiers was extremely pleased with this new opportunity. “Exciting developments are in front of us for the coming years,” he said. “The collaboration with IFNH will offer new possibilities to further strengthen the quality of our technology platform and to further validate the model with parallel in vivo/in vitro studies.”
Peter Gillies, founding director of the IFNH, echoed Possemiers’ remarks and offered that “in today’s competitive world, breakthrough science is fostered by teams and partnerships; we are very pleased to be working with ProDigest.”