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What’s the future for probiotics?

Published on June 22nd, 2021

Nigel Pollard, Director Metavate

Many people are talking about the gut microbiome, a subject few would have predicted 10 years ago would be a topic of polite conversation! There are questions. Do probiotics help human health? Are there clinical trials? Which products work?

Recently, there has been an explosion of research on probiotics with over 20,000 peer reviewed studies. The immaturity of this field is illustrated by the fact that in 2013 an expert consensus group was even needed to define “probiotics”[1]. There are few published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and it is rare for more than 2 clinical trials of the same strain against the same medical condition [2]. Despite this the market is huge, valued at USD 43-49bn and growing fast [3].

Specific products (strains) have been used in the existing RCTs. We need to help people find these specific products - using these products will encourage more clinical trial research and achieve better health outcomes.

The gut microbiome is clearly important for health. Proven ways to support a healthy microbiome, including using probiotics, has great potential. To deliver on this we need more evidence for strains and should support the use of specific products with clinical benefits shown in RCTs.

[1] Hill C et al Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014; 11(8): 506–14

*Definition of probiotics: “live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host”

[2] Markets and Markets/ Grand View Research/ Fortune Business Insights

[3] Brüssow H. Probiotics and prebiotics in clinical tests: an update [version 1; peer review: 2 approved] F1000Research 2019, (F1000 Faculty Rev):1157

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