Yakult Korea partners with Dutch firm to release functional drink with patented 'flavobiotic' formulation

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Yakult Korea's MPRO3 contains liquid prebiotics, encapsulated probiotics, and Dutch life science firm BioActor's patented 'flavobiotic' ingredient, MicrobiomeX.
Yakult Korea's MPRO3 contains liquid prebiotics, encapsulated probiotics, and Dutch life science firm BioActor's patented 'flavobiotic' ingredient, MicrobiomeX.

Related tags: Prebiotics, Probiotics, synbiotics, South korea, functional beverage, Flavonoids

Yakult Korea has collaborated with Dutch life sciences firm BioActor to develop a new dual-purpose functional beverage for the South Korean market.

Called MPRO3, the single-serve bottled product contains liquid prebiotics, encapsulated probiotics (containing three different kinds of patented lactic acid bacteria), and BioActor's patented 'flavobiotic' ingredient, MicrobiomeX, and is said to benefit intestinal health.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia​, BioActor MD Hans van der Saag said: "MPRO3 is a synbiotic product that combines prebiotics fibres, flavobiotics and probiotics. The probiotics are stored in the cap of the bottle (to ensure shelf-life stability), and the prebiotic fibres and MicrobiomeX are contained in the beverage below.

"All the consumer has to do is unscrew the cap and release the probiotics into the rest of the beverage, before drinking it. It's a very convenient, travel friendly gut health product."

'Flavobiotic' of the season

BioActor's MicrobiomeX is a citrus-derived natural ingredient that contains active flavonoids that are said to improve gut microbiome composition, strengthen the gut barrier, lower gut inflammation, and offer immune system support.

Van der Saag said: "MicrobiomeX adds a new category to the gut health space, one we call 'flavobiotics', because it's neither a probiotic nor prebiotic.

"90% to 85% of its flavonoids reach the colon intact after travelling through the stomach and small intestine, and it's only then that they begin to metabolise. This metabolism is triggered by very specific microbes that have the enzymes to produce butyrate.

"This means the flavonoids in MicrobiomeX are in their active form, so an active antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound is released in the gut lumen (when it reaches the colon)."

This flavonoid metabolism has two direct outcomes: the aforementioned release of active metabolites in the gut lumen, and gut microbiome modulation with Clostridium ​cluster XIVa, which produces butyrate.

This former leads to an increase in antioxidant activity in vivo​, which strengthens the gut barrier, and the latter an increase in beneficial SCFA (short-chain fatty acid) profiles, which provides support for the immune system.

Already, MicrobiomeX has been subjected to a 12-week RCT that examined the effects of a daily dose of 500mg of MicrobiomeX on the gut microbiome composition and calprotectin levels in a group of 50 subjects who were overweight and therefore, had an altered microbiota.

The study, which is in the process of being published, found that MicrobiomeX had caused "a significant shift from acetate to the health-promoting butyrate, and a significant increase in the butyrate proportion of total SCFAs"​, improving gut barrier function and lowering gut inflammation.

"That's what makes this ingredient unique, compared to prebiotic fibres, which don't have anti-inflammatory effects, and probiotics, which don't have synbiotic effects. In addition, it's effective at a very low dose — the recommended dose is 500mg, easily 10 times less than a recommended prebiotic fibre or probiotic dose."

More research, more releases?

At the moment, MPRO3 is available only on the South Korean market, and Yakult Korea has not indicated if it will make the product available in other countries.

According to van der Saag, the drink is suitable for consumers of all ages. He added that BioActor would continue to conduct research into MicrobiomeX to support potential NPD with Yakult Korea and possibly other companies.

In addition to the numerous in vitro​ and clinical studies that have already been conducted on MicrobiomeX, BioActor is currently running two clinical trials with the University Hospital of Maastricht — one involving people with IBS and another among a senior study population.

"The first trial targeted a somewhat general population, so right now, we are zeroing in on specific groups to discover the effects of MicrobiomeX on specific conditions," ​said van der Saag.

"The data from these studies may present new benefits that may support the development of new finished products, and we will continue help our partners by generating more research and providing more data to explore new formulations."