The licensing agreement gives UAS Labs rights for L. plantarum PPLP-217. The strain has been extensively studied by Dr. Panigrahi, including in a high-profile randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 4,556 infants within the first two months of life.
The PPLP-217 strain*, which has gone through development stages including screening, testing and multiple phases of clinical research, was found to reduce sepsis by 42%. According to a paper published in Nature in 2017, this was more than double the anticipated reduction and led to an early termination of the trial as it would have been unethical to continue depriving half the newborns of the probiotic.
“The research of Dr Panigrahi has made a lasting impression on me as a business owner and as a father. This strain has been the focus of ground-breaking studies in neonates and young infants with astonishing results,” said Kevin Mehring, President & CEO of UAS Labs. The company will continue to recognize Dr Panigrahi with the “PP” at the beginning of the L. plantarum strain designation, he added.
Mehring told NutraIngredients-USA that UAS will be providing the probiotic for all future clinical studies involving both Dr Panigrahi and PPLP-217.
“There are plans for new trials in different parts of the world where infant gut flora may be different and socio-cultural and environmental factors (related to the mother, infant feeding etc.) may impact the effects of any given strain,” he said. “The fermentation experts at UAS have manufactured the product to be used at an upcoming study in Ghana.”
Mehring added that UAS’s goal is to partner with anyone looking to deliver an infant-safe probiotic. “Whether supporting children in developing nations, or assisting the digestive tract of those here in the United States, we are excited to support and advance the offerings in this population,” he said.
It is only the beginning!
Commenting on the partnership, Dr Panigrahi said, “I am pleased to have formed this partnership with Kevin and the team at UAS. I have dedicated my life’s work to this strain and consider our agreement to be mutually beneficial. While the research to-date has been second-to-none, it is only the beginning!”
Dr Panigrahi and his colleagues are also exploring the strain’s other potential health benefits, with new trials on the strain being planned specifically in cases of insults to the respiratory tract in vulnerable populations – infants and the elderly.
“There is more than enough indication that it will work and the benefit to the society in terms of loss of DALYs (disability adjusted life years) is significant in the developed world where there is a big aging population,” said Dr Panigrahi.
Healthy Bellies, Healthy Babies foundation
In addition to the strain partnership Mehring and Dr. Panigrahi, along with additional investors, are launching the Healthy Bellies, Healthy Babies foundation.
“While our business, and our industry, is based on science – this strain offers so much more,” said Mehring. “The opportunity to help others has been the driving force behind both our licensing agreement and the Foundation. The Foundation will help fund a path to get this strain into resource constrained settings where it can make a huge difference in impacting long term health and development of children.”
A portion of all of UAS’ commercial sales will go directly to the Foundation.
*The Nature paper cited the strain by its ATCC strain designation: ATCC 202195