Research on synthetic prebiotics presented at microbiome R&D event

Professor Bob Rastall, Professor of Food Biotechnology at the University of Reading, has presented research on an emerging area of microbiome modulation at the fifth Microbiome R&D and Business Collaboration Forum in San Diego

Professor Rastall’s presentation explored the possibility of developing optimised synbiotics, known as optibiotics, which have the potential to be far more effective than existing probiotics at achieving targeted health benefits, including reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.

Synbiotics are combinations of a probiotic and a prebiotic, which both are targeted at the same healthcare benefit.

Most synbiotics to date have been mixtures of readily available carbohydrates and commercial probiotics, often driven by ease of availability rather than proven efficacy.

Professor Rastall’s presentation asserts that a more effective approach to the development of synbiotics would be to use the metabolic machinery of the target bacterial strain to generate an oligosaccharide (prebiotic) mixture that is metabolisable by the producing bacterial strain. Such optimised mixtures would be considered optibiotics.

Professor Rastall’s proposals about the development of optimised synbiotics have already been put into practice.

Research from the University of Reading, Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, and OptiBiotix Health, has previously shown that a naturally synthesised prebiotic can selectively increase the growth of the cholesterol-reducing probiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum LPLDL, as well as enhancing its cholesterol-reduction activity.

The researchers used reverse enzyme technology to synthesise a prebiotic, LPGOS, to selectively enhance the growth and cholesterol-reducing activity of the LPLDL probiotic.

LPLDL was selected from more than 4000 other bacterial strains because of its ability to lower both cholesterol and blood pressure. In a previous study, it was found to reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 13.9% and blood pressure by 5.1%.

When combined with the LPGOS prebiotic, LPLDL was found to increase the cholesterol lowering effect by over threefold in a 24-hour period.

Professor Rastall, who was involved in this synbiotic research, said: “Using β‐galactosidases expressed by LPLDL (LPGOS) we achieved the synthesis of GOS modulator that works in true synergy with the parent strain, not only increasing its population but also impacting on the biological activity the probiotic was selected for.”

“This is the first time that true synergy has been demonstrated for a synbiotic and suggests that these far more effective optimised synbiotics, will achieve greater health benefits than current probiotic and prebiotic products.”

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