Probiotic company adds antioxidant claim based on carotenoids produced by spore forming bacteria

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bacillus, Microbiology

Probiotic company adds antioxidant claim based on carotenoids produced by spore forming bacteria
Thrive Probiotics is bringing a message of diversity to the probiotics sphere. It’s necessary, the company believes, to increase the number of species in the gut for maximum health.

To do this, the company, which was founded on work done by Dr Simon Cutting in London, relies on spore forming bacteria.  From the point of view of Tom Bayne, DC, a health educator working with the company, only the spore forming strains can truly make the survivability case.

“The other probiotics are really wrapping up the bifido story in some other way. We tested a well known brand in a gut model and we found 99% of the bacteria were killed by the stomach acid. So it’s basically dead cell therapy. It may have its benefits but it’s not really probiotic,”​ Bayne told NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA.

“Survivability is the No. 1 issue. Even if you have one that says it’s enteric coated, the idea that I’m going to put even 100 billion bacteria into a sea of 100 trillion and have an effect doesn’t make sense,”​ Bayne said. 

Antioxidant claim

Rather, Bayne said that the goal should be to modify the diversity of the gut, which is best done with survivable strains of spore forming bacteria. The company uses strains researched by Cutting including Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus subtilis​ and Bacillus indicus​. But the company also makes an antioxidant claim, which sets it apart from the rest of the field.

The claim is based on the work of Cutting, who is a professor at Royal Holloway University, on colored strains of several Bacillus species that secrete carotenoids​. It’s among a suite of studies Cutting has done on the spore forming organisms dating back to the late 80s. In his most recent study Cutting and his associates identified the genetic pathway by which these yellow, orange and pink carotenoids were produced.

“There are no antioxidants in the capsule, but once the organisms start growing they secrete the antioxidants. They secrete carotenoids like lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin, and they also secrete B vitamins and vitamin K2,”​ Bayne said. 

Even with the spore forming probiotics, stability can be an issue, Bayne said. The company uses strains manufactured by Viridis, an Indian-based probiotic manufacturer, that worked for a number of years to validate and improve the organisms’ shelf stability. Viridis is a partner with SporeGen, a research consortium Cutting is involved with. Bayne said at least one well known supplement manufacturer removed the Bacillus subtilis​ it was adding to its products because the organism was starting to germinate on the shelf and make the products smell unpalatable.

While often though of as soil organism, Cutting has said this is a misnomer, and the long co-evolutionary history of Bacillus​ species in the guts of animals means the organisms should more properly be thought of as gut commensals. And that co-evolutionary history is long, Bayne said. A 1994 paper in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology detailed how researchers isolated Bacillus DNA from the abdomens of extinct stingless bees preserved in amber.

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