Researchers alert: BASF’s upcoming research grant to focus on HMO for immunity and metabolic benefits

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

BASF has released the research topics for its Nutrition Asia Research Grant 2020. ©Getty Images
BASF has released the research topics for its Nutrition Asia Research Grant 2020. ©Getty Images

Related tags HMO Infant Immune system Nutrition

BASF is placing a greater emphasis on human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) for its upcoming Nutrition Asia Research Grant.

First launched in 2012, the firm’s Nutrition Asia Research Grant​ is an annual event where the firm calls out for research proposals on designated health and nutrition topics.

This time round, special emphasis is placed on the biological functions of HMOs, including how the firm’s newly launched 2'-Fucosyllactose – PREBILAC, can address immunological and metabolic health challenges in Asia.

Present research findings suggest that the ingredient supports the development of a healthy gut microbiome and immune system, protecting against allergic diseases, and plays a role in the development of normal brain functions. 

Through the research grant, the firm also hopes to unlock the “new benefits of HMOs across life stages”​, commenting that HMO research is “still in its infancy”, ​although clinical and experimental studies have reaped encouraging result.

"Given that there is now more research showing the link between gut microbiota to health and diseases, HMOs could contribute to improving metabolic and immunological outcomes. 

"Hence, HMO and its influence over different health aspects is one of the more exciting and cutting-edge areas of nutrition research," ​Dr Kai Lin Ek, senior scientific marketing manager at BASF ​told NutraIngredients-Asia. 

Five grants amounting to €$200k (US$220k) will be given out, in which two will be awarded to projects investigating the role of HMOs in human health.

The firm has been directing more research efforts on HMOs recently.

In May this year, it signed a partnership agreement with Glycosyn for developing and commercialising HMOs​ for use in dietary supplements, functional nutrition, and medical food.

The partnership aims to improve gastrointestinal health in adolescents and adults, while broadening the use of HMO for further health conditions.

Last year, it also said that​ it was working with the University of California, Davis, in developing and validating second-gen HMO for gut microbiome, and even brain health across different age groups.

Other research interest

Besides HMOs’ benefits on immune and metabolic health, the firm is also interested awarding grants to research focusing on cardio-metabolic, physical function, and mobility problems.

These research can involve a functional health ingredient from BASF’s existing portfolio, including bioactive peptides, plant sterols, conjugated linoleic acid, and algal beta-carotene. 

Alternatively, the research could also involve other bio-actives or nutrients in combination with a selected ingredient from BASF.

Each winning entry will receive a grant of up to €40k (US$44k) from next June for the 18-month long research.

The deadline for proposal submission is Jan 9 next year and grant results will be out in March next year.

“The Nutrition Asia Research Grant reflects BASF’s commitment to scientific innovation through partnerships with the academic community.

“It is an excellent platform for us to collaborate closely with researchers and industry partners, addressing prevalent and emerging health needs in Asia Pacific through science-based nutritional solutions,”​ said Tina Low, VP at global business management of BASF’s human nutrition.

Since its inception, BASF has funded 30 projects across Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

Results from 15 projects have been presented at scientific congresses and seminars, with eight published peer-reviewed scientific papers.

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