The results of the small human, clinical trial were presented on Sunday at the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, and are being used by a Japanese company that partly funded the study to back the health benefits of a yoghurt fortified with the antibodies.
The company, Pharma Food International Company, has launched the yoghurt product in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, promoted on its ability to battle the ulcer and gastritis causing bacteria in question – Helicobacter pylori. It also responsible for the onset of stomach cancer.
Speaking at the event in Salt Lake City, Utah, study coordinator Hajime Hatta, PhD, a chemist at Kyoto Women's University in Kyoto in Japan, said products such as the one featured in the study, could deliver “vaccine-like” benefits and present an alternatives to typical treatments such as antibiotics and acid suppressants.
This is seen as being a particularly key finding in the developing world where antibiotics and acid suppressants are not commonly available.
"Our data indicate that the suppression of H. pylori infection in humans could be achieved by taking functional yoghurt fortified with urease antibody," Dr Hatta said at the chemist’s convention.
In the US alone, it is estimated which affect 25 million people suffer from stomach ulcers.
H. pylori depends on a protein called urease to bind to and infect the stomach lining, and so the scientists created a urease antibody called IgY-urease they then fortified the yoghurt with.
The antibody was created by injecting chickens with urease so that their immune systems produced the antibody. It was then extracted from the eggs they laid and inserted into the trial yoghurt that also included probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and one per cent egg yolk.
The study involved feeding 42 H. pylori-positive people two cups (450mL) of antibody-laden yoghurt or plain yoghurt three times per day for four weeks, with an interval reading at two weeks.
The researchers found that levels of a urease by-product in exhaled breath were significantly lower among the antibody group than the plain yoghurt control group.
The urea breath test is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the detection of H. pylori.
Source: American Chemical SocietyACS 2009; Abstract 1229589.
"Prophylactic effect of an anti-Helicobacter pylori IgY in human volunteer test"
Authors: Hatta H, et al.