Faculty-Led Startup Takes Aim at Improving Gut Health

This is a press release from NUtech Ventures, first published on the website of University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Nebraska faculty have founded a university spin-off company, Synbiotic Health, to develop a combination of beneficial gut bacteria and the fuel that feeds them.

A synbiotic, the company’s namesake, refers to the mixture of beneficial bacteria and fiber-like fuel that may be more effective at delivering health benefits when paired together. Working with NUtech Ventures, the university’s technology commercialization affiliate, the startup company has licensed its first synbiotic strains and plans to begin human clinical trials next year.

The company’s founding members include Nebraska’s Bob Hutkins, Andy Benson and Tom Burkey, as well as the University of Alberta’s Jens Walters and CEO Tim Brummels. The team formed Synbiotic Health with the goal of commercializing synbiotic combinations as ingredients for food and beverage companies.

The Nebraska researchers have long been studying how fiber-like prebiotics can support the growth of probiotics, beneficial bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal tract. Their research also focuses on pairing the right prebiotic with the right probiotic, which may help good bacteria stick around long enough to have health benefits.

“We’re excited to provide a scientific foundation that supports the commercialization of safe, effective synbiotics,” Brummels said. “The gut microbiome, and its impact on human health, is a key product-development platform for a number of leading nutritional companies.”

According to food scientist Andy Benson, the partnership with Synbiotic Health is also an important achievement for the Nebraska Food for Health Center. The center focuses on developing foods with proven health benefits, particularly those that affect the human gut microbiome.

“This partnership demonstrates the center’s commitment to translating and commercializing research-based products,” said Benson, presidential chair and center director. “These synbiotics are a rapidly emerging class of ‘next generation’ probiotics that can ultimately improve human and animal health.”

Synbiotic Health Opens Laboratory at University of Nebraska

Synbiotic Health announces it has signed a lease on a laboratory space at the Biotech Connector space located at the NUtech Innovation Center on the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln campus. The new lab will allow the company’s science team to continue its efforts to advance the development of a unique class of synergistic synbiotics.

The company’s inaugural synbiotic nutritional ingredient is forthcoming in 2020.

Synbiotic Health Scientists Publish Scientific Paper on Unique Synbiotic Formulation Strategy

University of Nebraska professor and Synbiotic Health co-founding scientist Dr. Robert Hutkins is leading the development of a unique strategy to formulate synergistic synbiotics—and this innovative technique was recently published in an academic paper in the American Society for Microbiology Journal. The paper, entitled “An In Vitro Enrichment Strategy for Formulating Synergistic Synbiotics”, is co-authored by Hutkins along with Car Reen Kok, David Fabian Gomez Quintero, Clement Niyirora, Devin Rose, and Amanda Li.

“To date, demonstrating synergistic effects of probiotic and prebiotic ingredients has been scientifically challenging,”— says Tim Brummels, CEO of Synbiotic Health. “This publication pioneers and approach that shows it’s possible to improve on the synbiotic products currently available on the market. We look forward to continuing our scientific work, creating unique synbiotic formulations to support human health.”

The paper can be found here.

Synbiotic Health Establishes Headquarters at the Nebraska Innovation Campus

Synbiotic Health has opened an office at Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC), adjacent to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. NIC is a public/private research campus connected with the University of Nebraska—designed to connect the talents of experts, industry, and the university to create a culture of collaboration and innovation.

The office will serve as the company headquarters as its science team continues its R&D efforts on a new class of synergistic synbiotics.

Synbiotic Health Appoints Tim Brummels as President and CEO

The Synbiotic Health team is pleased to announce that Tim Brummels has been appointed Chair of the Board, CEO, and President. Brummels is a 30-year entrepreneur, executive officer, board member, and investor for natural health ingredient companies.

Brummels and has worked with companies that range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, including his own consultancy, Edgewater Company, ConAgra Foods and Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Company. Brummels is also a co-founder and current board member of Prenexus Health, Inc., having previously served the company as CEO and President. His approach to achieving market success centers around strategic planning, capitalization, financing and measurable execution plans.

Brummels says, “As we move into an era of learning more about the human microbiome, new opportunities are emerging for modulating the gut microbiome to achieve better health. I look forward to working with this world-leading team of scientific experts who are pioneering new approaches and products.” See here for more on Tim Brummels.

Synbiotic Solutions becomes Synbiotic Health

Synbiotic Solutions has announced its intention to update the company name to “Synbiotic Health”. The new name parallels a shift in strategy, toward developing and marketing premium synergistic synbiotic ingredients for the purposes of supporting human health and wellness.

Company co-founder Dr. Robert Hutkins says, “Synbiotics can look many different ways—but ultimately, it’s the health effect that matters most. We are focusing on probiotic and prebiotic combinations that have clear-cut effects on health, as shown in clinical studies.”

The company is currently formulating its inaugural synbiotic product.

Leading Probiotic and Prebiotic Researchers Form Synbiotic Solutions Company

A group of leading researchers in the field of probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods has come together to form Synbiotic Solutions—a Nebraska-based limited liability company focused on developing the highest quality synbiotic products for the food and supplements industries.

The academic co-founders of the company bring together decades of experience and have authored dozens of scientific papers in the field. They are:

  • Robert W. Hutkins, PhD: Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska; Board of Directors, International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics; ‘Food Doc’ media columnist in the Lincoln Journal Star. Throughout his career, Dr. Hutkins has been recognized repeatedly for excellence in research and teaching. His lab studies bacteria in fermented foods and in human health.
  • Andy Benson, PhD: Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska; Presidential Chair and Director of the Nebraska Food for Health Center. Dr. Benson’s research program focuses on human genetics and their influence on the microbiome, and how dietary factors can modify the impact of host genetics.
  • Thomas Burkey, PhD: Professor of Non-Ruminant Nutrition at the University of Nebraska. Dr. Burkey is an expert in animal nutrition, digestive physiology, and muscosal immunity. More specifically, his research focuses on in vivo and in vitro effects of prebiotics and probiotics on growth, immunity, and nutrient transport.
  • Jens Walter, PhD: Professor and CAIP Chair for Nutrition, Microbes, and Gastrointestinal Health at the University of Alberta (Canada). Dr. Walter’s expertise lies at the interface of evolutionary ecology of the gut microbiome and human nutrition. He is especially interested in the evolutionary and ecological processes that have shaped the host-microbiome interrelationship, and the translation of basic discoveries in this area into therapeutic and nutritional strategies that can modulate microbiomes for improved health.