More than 150 food companies are currently using LAC-Shield for various food and beverage applications in Japan.
Morinaga said the product, a heat-killed strain of beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria (Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849), has been clinically shown to have immune-enhancing benefits.
However, because it has been pasteurized, LAC-Shield does not pose the stability issues of traditional probiotics, the company said.
There are application challenges when formulating with probiotics, since live bacteria often do not survive at high temperatures or under high water-activity environments.
“LAC-Shield is unique because it can be added to a wide range of foods and beverages in which conventional probiotics can’t survive,” said Dr Fumiaki Abe, general manager of Morinaga’s Food Ingredients & Technology Institute.
The company said it selected the strain Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849 from its collection of thousands of cultures because it showed an immune-stimulating effect even when pasteurized, as measured by its ability to induce the production of IL-12 (a cytokine that activates cellular immunity) by immune cells.
A new human clinical study collaborating with Professor Koshiro Miura and Associate Professor Junko Kondo of Kyushu Women’s University examined the effect of LAC-Shield on the common cold in 241 healthy women over age 18.
Participants were randomized to receive either LAC-Shield (10bn or 30bn cells) or placebo powder every day for 12 weeks. Subjective symptoms of the common cold — such as cough, sore throat, sneezing, nasal congestion, headache, malaise, and fever — were recorded every day for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, among subjects who had caught a cold within the past year, LAC-Shield (10bn cells) significantly reduced the incidence of the common cold, the total number of days symptoms lasted, and symptom severity score.
These results were presented at the International Union of Microbiological Societies conference held in Singapore in July, 2017.
Generally probiotics are thought to have both direct and indirect roles on immune system; the direct effect of bacteria itself on gut immunity and the indirect effect by beneficial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids produced in the gut.
Pasteurized bacteria can have only a direct effect, he said, although he added, “We see massive potential in LAC-Shield for its immune enhancing effect and application diversity.”