Malnutrition, a global problem

When we hear about starvation we usually think in terms of a lack of food. People simply do not get enough calories to sustain themselves and starvation ensues. But there is an equally large but hidden problem of malnutrition. Even if you get the right amount of calories, if these do not contain sufficient amounts of the right micronutrients, serious illness and even death can be the result. Vitamin A deficiencies is solely the cause of blindness in 2.8 million children under the age of 5 year and also increases the chance of disease and death from severe infection.().

What does malnutrition have to do with probiotics?

Bacteria have historically had a bad reputation in the public consciousness. They are mainly associated with illness and disease. However bacteria are vital for our well-being and survival. Especially in the digestive system they play a crucial role in digestion, synthesis of nutrients and keeping other pathogenic bacteria in check. These are so called probiotic bacteria. They depend on their host but also contribute to its health. This ability to synthesise many essential micronutrients is a great opportunity for the synthetic biology community. So, how can we harness the positive potential of this human-bacteria relationship to solve the problem of malnutrition?