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Europe investigates probiotics

04-Nov-2002

As probiotics find increasing favour with food manufacturers a new European funded study, PROGID, is set to investigate the impact of two probiotic strains on easing the symptoms of inflammatory bowl diseases (IBD).

The efficacy of the two probiotic strains, Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118 and Bifidobacterium infantis UCC35624, will be studied in one-year clinical trials with volunteers suffering from gastrointestinal disorders in Ireland, Spain and Finland.

Participating patients will receive either one or the other of the probiotics in a milk-based product or or a placebo product. Patients will be assessed after one month and then every third month according to a wide range of measures relating to bodily function and to various subjective measures relating to the quality of life. The effect of the treatment will be observed using a questionnaire measuring the patients' well-being, faecal samples, blood and saliva samples.

Volunteers in the study are either suffering from Crohn's disease or the ulcerative colitis, also called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). These disorders involve life-long suffering for up to 50 - 100,000 people in the US and Europe and for which there is currently no cure. There is a body of scientific thought that believes intestinal inflammation in IBD results from an abnormal reaction of the immune system to certain bacteria in our intestinal tract. Consequently, there is the suggestion that it might be possible to alter the microbial ecosystem in the gut using probiotics to prevent this abnormal immune response from occurring.

Further studies in Europe will explore the role of the human intestinal bacteria in these diseases, potentially opening new therapeutic approaches for preventing them.

Further information about PROGID can be obtained from Prof. Fergus Shanahan at the National University of Ireland Cork via F.Shanahan@ucc.ie .

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