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Br J Nutr. 2005 Apr;93 Suppl 1:S91-8.

The SYNCAN project: goals, set-up, first results and settings of the human intervention study.

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Orafti, Tienen, Belgium.


Experimental evidence on the anticancer properties of dietary prebiotics such as chicory inulin and oligofructose and dietary probiotics has accumulated in recent years. Various experimental models ranging from chemoprevention studies, tumour implantation models to genetically modified mice models, etc. have systematically shown the protective effects of these food ingredients. In some studies it appeared that synbiotics (combination of pre- and probiotics) exerted synergistic activity against processes of carcinogenesis. The logical next step in research was to find out if these observations also would be valid for human volunteers. This was the principal goal of the EU-sponsored SYNCAN project (QLK1-1999-346) which involved the integration of an in vitro study to select the most suitable synbiotic preparation, the application of this synbiotic in an in vivo rat model of chemically induced colon cancer, and, as the heart of the project, the investigation of the synbiotic effects in a human intervention study. The in vitro tests consisted of fermentation studies where the interaction of pre- and probiotics was studied. Cell-free supernatants were generated from various synbiotic combinations fermented by faecal slurry, which were then used to optimise a series of bioassays. In the rat study the anticarcinogenic effect of prebiotics and synbiotics but not of probiotics was demonstrated. Using tissue samples generated in this model, attempts were made to gain a better insight into the mechanisms underlying cancer development. The human intervention study consisted of two groups of volunteers. One group was composed of people at high risk (polypectomised subjects) for colon cancer and the other of volunteers (colon cancer subjects) who had previously undergone 'curative resection' for colon cancer but were not currently receiving treatment. The present paper describes the experimental design of the SYNCAN study, and demonstrates a functional effect of the synbiotic preparation (probiotic survival during gastrointestinal transit and modification of the intestinal flora). Detailed experimental outcome of the human intervention study will be reported elsewhere.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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