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The Future is Bright for Microbiome Metabolites and Drugs Derived From Probiotics

Some of the claims made about Probiotics can be hard to believe, and often even harder to reliably prove. However, the science surrounding the development of these products is exciting, and some of the more extraordinary claims can be quantified.

Here a few examples from some of the presentations at the Microbiome & Prebiotics Series: USA:

  • There is a clever use of the microbiome that fights mild-to-moderate psoriasis with minimal toxicity to the patient.
  • Prebiotic products can be more cleverly formulated to improve blood sugar control.
  • There is a novel “probiotic drug” that likely decreases the odds of premature birth.

In this blog, I will address why I believe these almost fantastical health claims about probiotics.

“Living Drug” May Prevent Premature Births

If you wanted to make a probiotic claim I wouldn’t believe…this would be it. 

I am completely blown away by the possibility that modifying a pregnant mother’s vaginal flora could measurably decrease premature births.

I have read previously that a mother’s vaginal flora changes significantly around the time of labour. But stopping premature births is completely unexpected.

But this is the beauty of science. 

It can show relationships between seemingly unrelated things. And I have faith that additional clinical trials will continue to show efficacy in preventing premature birth.

My notes are sparse on this lecture (it’s difficult to write notes when your jaw is the floor). But I also wrote that conception may also be aided by non-dysbiotic vaginal flora, and they also have a treatment for UTI’s caused by BV.

If one of these drug trials is successful, then this would be the very first time that a bacterial treatment would be classified as a drug.

Congratulations to Dr Lee and Osel Inc. I sincerely hope these treatments are perfected before I have children.

Next Generation Probiotic Treatments – Drugs Made of Probiotic Metabolites

Dr Ira Spector, CEO of SFA Therapeutics, presented on the use of probiotic metabolites that can control diseases. They are currently focused on disrupting treatments for psoriasis, hepatitis B and liver cancer (HCC).

But in this round-up, I’m just going to cover their exciting work on psoriasis, which has just started stage 2 trials, is the furthest along of their pipeline of drugs.

Of the current psoriasis treatments, each treatment has significant side effects. And side effects seem to increase with the effectiveness of the treatment. In non-severe cases of psoriasis, the side effects could be worse than the disease.

To help mild to moderate psoriasis sufferers, low toxicity metabolites have shown promising results in stage 1 drug trials. In the study of 5 people, a clinically significant reduction in the severity of symptoms was observed in 30 days. No side effects were observed!

SFA Therapeutics has received orphan drug status for the most common form of liver cancer, HCC, which should decrease development costs and hopefully shrink the development timeline. 

Harvesting metabolites from bacteria is not a new idea. But, with the increased understanding of microbiome metabolites, scientists seem poised to create new sets of drugs. I am hopeful that low toxicity, extremely effective drugs will come out of this drug discovery approach. What a time to be alive.

Thanks for educating me on this Dr Ira Spector.  I am so excited by probiotic metabolite drug development – I will keep my eye on this area of drug development!

BiomeBliss – Moving Beyond 1 Dimensional Prebiotics

I really enjoyed Dr Dale Pfost’s talk about the development of the BiomeBliss product. They went into detail about the clinical trials behind the product, as well as why it was formulated in the manner it is.

When plain inulin is supplemented, hydrogen production in the intestines is increased. The hydrogen then stimulates the products of metabolites like methane and hydrogen sulfide.

BiomeBliss uses inulin + beta-glucan + polyphenols, rather than plain inulin. This combination is though to help other non-HS and non-CH4 producing organisms compete for the hydrogen, and may result in more salubrious metabolites being produced.

After doing some clinical trials, they can claim that their product does the following:

  1. Helps maintain hunger control
  2. Helps maintain regularity
  3. Helps maintain healthy mealtime blood sugar

I was really impressed by the approach of reducing HS production by including other ingredients with standard inulin. The product also tastes well and has minimal sugar.

At the end of the presentation, Dr Pfost said they are seeking strategic partnerships. So if you’re interested, be sure to reach out to him.

Evan Jerkunica founded in 2009, where he takes a research-based approach to understanding the benefits and potential risks of probiotics.

The Microbiome & Probiotics R&D and Business Collaboration Forum will be taking place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on 18-20 May. Click here to download the agenda.


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