What is it about Englishmen and talking about the weather? Anyway I will take my place as one of these Englishmen, as it was very cold, wet and windy in Edinburgh over the few days when Ann and I visited to present at the” Exploring and Exploiting the Microbiome” Conference.
The Dynamic Earth Centre is an incredible venue and the atmosphere within the meeting of over a hundred academics and interested parties was warm, a stark contrast to the outside. It was a great honour to be invited to talk at this prestigious event, alongside people with such huge passion and interest in taking the Microbiome concept forward from their own professional aspect. There was an array of subjects covered over the conference, and some of the science was very specialised indeed – I met Professor Rainer Roehe, from The Roslin Institute, who complimented me on my presentation but whose clear interest was in the agricultural roots of Symprove’s technology, as he explained that he is working on a project to reduce methane gases from livestock through genetics! What a fascinating man to chat to.
I am acutely aware that none of these events happen without a huge amount of driving passion, and Liz Fletcher did a wonderful job in pulling all of these experts together to discuss a subject that has fascinated me over the last 30 years. I think it would be fair to say that our own presentation was to say the least a little bit leftfield, as we actually had a product that is already out there helping people and have published data behind us, with more study results to come – this is a difficult concept to grasp as most of what was discussed are “blue-skies” opportunities, with one eminent Professor pointing out that there is a huge amount of information out there on protozoa and as such, in his view there must be some major commercial opportunities, yet no-one seems quite sure what they might be; it’s a bit like being stuck in a combination of extreme exploration that is also eliciting a dot.com type boom.
As ever in these type of meetings there are, of course, conflicting arguments; one speaker saying they didn’t expect much from probiotics, whilst Heather Roxburgh, (Tate&Lyle) gave a fascinating insight into huge venture capital investments going to companies with just drawing board ideas in this field. Of course I do recall, that some years after I met Professor Bjarnason, he disclosed to me that prior to meeting me he had indeed written a paper that said “probiotics will not work within gastroenterology” so this view is not something that is new to me, and of course, the medical teams at King’s College, are now asking to do more and more with us as they realise the potential of utilising microbe-based technologies to be part of the care package, for a whole range of difficult patient indications.
It was great to catch up with a couple of the many nutritionists, who have been avidly following our story so far and to have a chat with the Dr Samantha Law, Curator at the NCIMB, where they are doing a grand job as guardians of the individual strains of bacteria that we are all working so hard to harness.
So we left a wet and windy Edinburgh, albeit where we were discussing clear blue-sky ideas, to arrive in a just as wet and windy London on Wednesday, where Dr Hayward and myself were rushing to a meeting with the Infection Control Department at UCL-H, here we were asked to present to a dedicated team, who are looking to manage disease, and in particular with those patients that have compromised immune-systems for a whole host of reasons, and the team here wanted a further insight into Symprove as they have already been involved with patients who have been led to Symprove through a very eminent micro-biologist.
So with awareness ranging from these blue-sky opportunities to the practicalities of Symprove “supporting” people through their day-to-day life, here at Symprove HQ we know there are more results due, and maybe a few storms ahead, but the daily feedback we receive from customers keeps us feeling warm whatever the weather.