Interview with Dr Fujimoto, Yakult Honsha European Research Centre (YHER) Ghent Belgium

YHER was established in 2005 and is the only direct spin-off of the Yakult Central Institute in Japan.

The main objectives of YHER are to expand and strengthen international research collaboration and to accumulate scientific research data on European populations. YHER is focusing on investigating the effect of our probiotics product containing, Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS) in various physiological conditions by conducting fundamental and clinical research (see the publication list here below). With regard to fundamental research, YHER has been carrying out the research alone or with Danone Research in France. YHER also plays an active role in supporting the research needed for EU health claims.
Throughout the years, YHER has established various research relationships with European universities and institutes.

The researchers in Yakult Central Institute have been routinely sent to YHER. Since 2011, YHER also started recruiting European researchers. In addition, young European researchers have been accepted for student internship to gain experience in the field of probiotics and microbiology.

Through working at YHER, researchers are well trained as internationally oriented human resources. Most of these researchers serve important functions for bridging international research and collaborations.

When looking into the future, Dr Fujimoto indicates the intention to participate in more EU research projects as well as more interaction with European scientists and research institutes. In April 2018, YHER was involved in the forthcoming International Yakult Symposium in Ghent with poster presentation of their newest data.

“I enjoy working in Ghent very much. Ghent is a lovely place, with its beautiful township and friendly people. The only thing that is missing is a really authentic Japanese restaurant’. Dr Fujimoto ends this brief conversation with a slightly melancholic remark towards Japan.

Publications by YHER researchers:

Bifibobacteria prevent Tunicamycin-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress and subsequent barrier disruption in human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 monolayers.

Early-life events, including mode of delivery and type of feeding, siblings and gender, shape the developing gut microbiota.

Longitudinal investigation of carriage rates, counts and genotypes of toxigenic Clostridium difficile in early infancy.

Effect of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota on constipation-related symptoms and haemorrhoids in women during puerperium.

Multilocus sequence typing of bifidobacterial strains from infant’s faeces and human milk: are bifidobacterial being sustainably shared during breastfeeding?

Development of TaqMan-based quantitative PCR for sensitive and selective detection of toxigenic Clostridium difficile in human stools.

Ethnic diversity of gut microbiota: species characterization of Bacteroides fragilis group and genus Bifidobacterium in healthy Belgian adults, and comparison with data from Japanese subjects.

Mother-to-infant transmission of intestinal bifidobacterial strains has an impact on the early development of vaginally delivered infant’s microbiota.

Transmission of intestinal Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum strains from mother to infant, determined by multilocus sequencing typing and amplified fragment length polymorphism.

Fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota reduces incidence of hard or lumpy stools in healthy population.

M-RTLV agar, a novel selective medium to distinguish Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei from Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

Antimicrobial susceptibility testing of lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacterial by broth microdilution method and Etest