It is well known that the colonic microbiota plays a very important role in the host health, and that the quality of this microbiota (measured by composition and activity) can be modified through the diet.
According to literature, a prebiotic is a non-digestible food ingredient which positively affects the host, stimulating selectively the growth and / or activity of a type or limited number of types of bacteria present in the colon. Prebiotics of proven effectiveness are able of modulate the intestinal microbiota, stimulating the beneficial flora (mainly Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) without affecting or even inhibiting others considered harmful as Clostridia, resulting in health improvement.
Commercial prebiotics,whose bifidogenic capacities have been confirmed by in vivo studies in humans, include fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GaOS).
However, in the last years there has been a growing interest in the development of new prebiotics having additional properties to those aforementionated.
In this field, the EQ-2 group has been working on the development of processes for production and purificarion of new prebiotics (involving chemical and biotechnological technologies), as well as on the experimental assessment of the properties of the resulting products. Currently, the studies are focused in the following target products:
Xylooligosaccharides, obtained by processing of xylan-rich substrates such as hardwoods, corn cobs, byproducts from the malting industry or rice husks.
Galactoglucomanooligosaccharides, produced from softwoods.
Pectooligosaccharides, generated from agroindustrial byproducts rich in pectin, such as sugar beet pulp, apple bagasse or citrus peels.
The studies related to the production of xylooligosaccharides, galactoglucomanooligosaccharides are led by Prof. Dr. Juan Carlos Parajó, whereas Prof. Dr. José Luis Alonso supervises the studies dealing with the manufacture, purification and evaluation of pectooligosaccharides.
In connection with this line, the group has manages three R & D projects funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and two R & D contracts with companies.