Danone has filed a patent for a probiotic strain that improves the function of the enteric nervous system, claiming it can therefore be used to treat and/or prevent gut disorders such as IBS.
The strain – Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. Animalis – can be used in fermented dairy products, particularly drinks as administration was easier. However, it could also be used in yogurts, cheese, infant milk formula and nutritional supplements.
Danone said the probiotic could be used to treat and/or prevent disorders including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
“This strain is able, inter alia, to improve the function of the enteric nervous system (ENS), in particular by increasing the vaso-active intestinal peptide (VIP) levels thereof, in order for instance to promote gut motility or barrier integrity functions,” it wrote in its international patent filing. The enteric nervous system governs the function of the gastro-intestinal system.
“This strain can thus be used in preventing and/or reducing gastro-intestinal discomfort or gastro-intestinal disorders,” it continued.
Increased VIP levels
Danone acknowledged other patents had been filed on probiotic strains that promoted an increase in VIP levels in the enteric nervous system, but said its strain promoted higher levels.
This was important for a number of reasons, it said, because of the role VIP played in the gut.
Increased levels induced muscle relaxation in the lower oesophageal sphincter, stomach and gallbladder; stimulated the secretion of water and electrolytes; dilated intestinal smooth muscle; stimulated pancreatic bicarbonate secretion; and inhibited gastrin-stimulated gastric acid secretion.
“These effects work together to increase motility. Thus, increasing VIP beneficially improves relaxation of the muscles of the GI tract,” Danone wrote.
Beyond increased VIP levels
In addition to increasing VIP levels of the enteric nervous system, the probiotic strain also served other functions, Danone said.
The strain could improve intestinal barrier properties and improve overall gut function, gastro-intestinal motility and transit time. It could inhibit growth of pathogens in food products and/or in a subject after administration and decrease production of gas upon fermentation and/or upon digestion.
Danone said that the Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. Animalis strain could be combined with other bacteria strains, probiotic or not. Examples included the genera Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Streptococcus, and Bifidobacteria.