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A recap of the Microbiome & Probiotics Series: Europe

The Microbiome & Probiotics Series: Europe is one of the highlights of our calendar year. Kristin Neumann, author & founder of MyMicrobiome was one of our speakers on the cosmeceuticals track and was kind enough to write the following recap of the event, for people who weren’t able to attend this year. You can read the original article here.

Global Engage brought many microbiome scientists to Rotterdam this past May. The conference was divided into 3 main topics:

  • 6th Microbiome R&D & Business Collaboration Forum
  • 3rd Probiotics Congress
  • Skin Microbiome & Cosmeceuticals Congress

There were small startups including YUNAOBiomeElsiBeauty and Gallinée as well as the big players like L’Oréal and Nestlé, who explained the research behind their products.

With YUN and AOBiome, 2/3 of the real probiotics manufacturers in the cosmetics industry were represented at the conference.

Gallinée has developed the world’s first pre- and postbiotic hair care products based on fermented rice water. The maxim is: cultivate more, wash less! Postbiotic products are substances that are produced by bacteria.

YUN has put Lactobacilli into capsules of its acne treatment products. In these capsules, the bacteria survive until they reach the user’s skin. The Lactobacilli compete with Cutibacterium acnes and Staphylococci for the habitat of the skin and thus reduce acne symptoms.

Marie Drago, Founder of Galinée with Dr. Kristin Neumann, MyMicrobiome

Ingmar Claes, CSO of YUN Therapeutics with Dr. Kristin Neumann, MyMicrobiome

ELSI Beauty has discovered that daily, we put up to 126 ingredients on our face through cosmetics and creams…no wonder we react with different symptoms! ELSI has developed a moisturizing serum with only 3 ingredients.

At the roundtable discussion with Johanna Gillbro, author of the book Hudbibeln (Skin Bible) and co-founder of the Skinome Project in Sweden, we discussed the differences between alive and dead bacteria in cosmetics. In addition, the missing directives for “probiotic” and microbiome-friendly cosmetic products were discussed.

At the roundtable discussion with Johanna Gillbro

At the roundtable discussion with Johanna Gillbro

There is already a whole series of ‘probiotics’ and supposedly microbiome friendly products in the cosmetics market. However, there are no directives or guidelines for any of the advertised statements.

Everything which contains any form of bacteria or parts thereof is called probiotic in the cosmetics industry. There is a very clear definition of the word ‘probiotic’, at least in the food industry: “living microorganisms that, when administered in sufficient quantities, confer health benefits to the host” (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics).

Both dead and alive bacteria have an effect on the skin. Lactobacilli are used in most cases because they are already thoroughly tested for the food industry and are therefore classified as safe. Both killed and alive bacteria can contain or release antibacterial compounds and contain metabolic products that are good for the skin. In addition, living, genuine probiotics can actively influence the pH of the skin so that, for example, lactic acid can function properly. In addition, the living bacteria survive for some time on the skin thus can be longer efficient on the skin than dead bacteria.

So far, however, there are neither specifications nor analysis methods for probiotic cosmetics.

Furthermore, it is very difficult to distinguish microbiome-friendly products from those that harm the skin microbiome.A big problem are preservatives, which provide a long shelf life to cosmetics and facilitate production processes. However, these preservatives can attack our skin microbiome. There has to be a paradigm shift, as in many fields. The production of cosmetics without preservatives requires expensive, sterile production conditions and lead to a shorter shelf life.

Lecture Dr. Kristin Neumann

Lecture “MyMicrobiome standard 18.10” Dr. Kristin Neumann

Apart from the skin microbiome subjects, there were more exciting scientific findings:

Paul de Vos from the University of Groningen in Holland presented a method by which he can study the effects of pro- and prebiotics on digestion. With this method, he has gained some exciting insights with different fiber. For example, crystallized starch is a particularly good fiber which arises when vegetables are cooked, cooled and cooked again. Paul lost 6 kg!

One surprise was that there are serious differences from long-chain to short-chain inulin. Inulin is a very popular fiber that can be bought anywhere in extracted form. However, most details on the nature of the inulin are missing. Long-chain inulins show a much stronger effect on the development of the intestinal immune system than short-chain ones. In an experiment on mice, the development of type I diabetes, which can develop mainly in the introduction of solid foods in babies, was prevented with long-chain inulin, but not with short-chain inulin.

Omry Kohen from the University of Barllan, Israel, showed that the microbiome of pregnant women in the last third of pregnancy resembles the microbiome of people with metabolic syndrome. The bacterial diversity goes down and the amount of Proteobacteria (pro-inflammatory) and Actinobacteria goes up. When mice are transplanted with the microbiome of pregnant women in the last trimester of pregnancy, the mice become as obese as when the microbiome from obese women is transplanted. It seems that the microbiome adapts to the requirements of pregnancy. How exactly the interaction between pregnancy and microbiome works is now being further explored.

There was a lot of talk about probiotics in the food industry again. Here studies on healthy individuals and more targeted studies are still missing to substantiate the claims on health benefits. The goal is to have a globally consistent definition and language about probiotics.

Nestlé’s Cate Blanchard talked about fecal transplantation and the risks it poses. Although many patients have been successfully treated, high safety standards and accurate analysis of the graft are an absolute must. DIY fecal transplant grafts are strongly discouraged.

All in all, the topic of microbiome is a very exciting and promising field of research for our health, but science must run after the industry and the hype surrounding the microbiome should be treated with caution, especially in industry!

If you weren’t able to make the European event, there’s still time to register for the Microbiome & Probiotics Series: USA, being held in San Diego in October. View the agenda here.

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