2016 Press Releases

Psychobiotic Revolution to treat depression to take off ‘within five years’

19 Feb 2016
Professor Dinan will be among the speakers at the SynBio Future 2016 Conference: Future Axioms in Synthetic Biology at UCC on Monday.

Psychobiotics will be available within the next five years for treating depression and anxiety disorders, a UCC professor of psychiatry has predicted. 

“There is increasing evidence from work in the APC Microbiome Institute that alterations in gut microbes may predispose to mental health problems.  We have identified bacteria called Psychobiotics which have a positive mental health benefit,” according to Ted Dinan, a Principal Investigator at APC in UCC.

“There are approximately 1kg of bacteria in the adult gut, the same weight as the human brain. In the absence of gut bacteria the brain does not develop normally,” he explained.


Professor Dinan expects that other therapies for psychiatric conditions which may emerge are antibiotics targeting ‘bad’ bacteria or even faecal microbiota transplantation, a therapy currently confined to people with intractable clostridium difficile infection.

Although there are many preparations of bacteria now being marketed as probiotics, the vast majority do nothing for us, Professor Dinan said. Most don't make it past the stomach acid, however “a few have enormous implications for the future of psychiatric medication."


Awarded the Melvin Ramsey Prize in 1995 for his research into the biology of stress, Professor Dinan will be among the speakers at the SynBio Future 2016 Conference: Future Axioms in Synthetic Biology at UCC on Monday (February 22). 

Hosted by the world’s leading accelerator for synthetic biology and biotech startups IndieBio EU, UCC School of Microbiology, and UCC School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, the conference will feature speakers representing the biotech startup scene, new faces of industrial biotechnology, experts in functional food microbiota and brain:gut interaction, pioneers in biological regulation and licensing, and biotechnology investors.

According to IndieBio founder Bill Liao, "Cork is the global hub biotechnology that has managed to hide its light away till now. Cork has a long tradition of entrepreneurship and is one of the world's most liveable cities.”

 “UCC and IndieBio are proud to convene world leading presentations on the Axiomatic impacts of Synthetic biology. If your work in any way touches the realm of synthetic biology, whether it be manufacturing or medicine there is cutting edge insight available to you at our Synbio Future conference, which covers the entire spectrum of topics from the academic to the investable,” Liao said.

Numerous startup companies including Hyasynth, Evolva, GlowDx, Ourobotics, Bento Labs and Monaghan Bioscience will showcase their contributions to global problems, which they address using synthetic biology, at the event.

“Synthetic biology is the technology of the new millennium and as it is moving forward at an exponential pace you cannot afford to miss any opportunities to come up to speed on the latest this domain has to offer, Liao commented.

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