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Europe: German company, hospital to develop human-milk-oligosaccharides to prevent Norovirus

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany will support the development of human-milk-oligosaccharides by Jennewein Biotechnologie for the prevention of Norovirus within the framework of KMU-Innovativ.

The company says it is cooperating in this project with the University Children’s Hospital Mannheim of Heidelberg University.

In a previous collaborative project with the hospital, Jennewein Biotechnologie has already confirmed the effective inhibition of prevalent diarrhoea-causing bacteria by synthetic human-milk-oligosaccharides.

The company specializes in the development of novel production processes and the production of scarce functional monosaccharides and oligosaccharides for nutritional and pharmaceutical applications.

It produces human-milk-oligosaccharides for the use as functional food ingredients.

Scientific investigations have shown that specific complex carbohydrates in human milk (human-milk-oligosaccharides) are inter alia responsible for breastfed infants showing considerably lower Norovirus-infection risk than bottle-fed infants.

Norovirus is the most common cause of viral epidemic gastroenteritis.

The protective mechanism of human-milk-oligosaccharides cannot be overcome by pathogens and their consumption has no adverse effects.

Soluble human-milk-oligosaccharides imitate cell-surface bound glycosylstructures that are used by pathogens such as Norovirus as receptor or co-receptor.

By oral intake of human-milk-oligosaccharides these functional sugars prevail in the gastrointestinal tract and the blood stream.

Pathogens entering the body, such as in contaminated food connect to human-milk-oligosaccharides and are subsequently eliminated together with the non-digestible carbohydrates.

About 18% of all gastroenteritis infections are caused by Norovirus affecting 267 million people worldwide every year, says Jennewein Biotechnologie.

According to the Robert Koch-Institute more than 200.000 Norovirus-infections were registered in Germany during 2012 and 2013.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report up to 21 million Norovirus-infections per year in the US.

Norovirus-infection is typically characterized by nausea, forceful vomiting and diarrhea.

To date neither a therapy nor an effective protection, e.g. vaccination, exists against the virus, which is extremely contagious and is transmitted directly from person to person and indirectly via contaminated water, food and surfaces.