“We see ourselves as a research centre that funds itself through manufacturing, rather than as a production company that also engages in research,” says Business Development Director Vera Mogna. “Our research is the prime reason for our existence. We invest 10% of our revenues in research and development each year in order to find new ways in which we can improve people’s health with good bacteria.”
As a result of this primary focus on research, Probiotical has the largest catalogue of probiotic strains of any company in its market. “We have roughly 60 strains currently in production out of a total bank of 250 strains,” says Ms. Mogna. “By contrast, our competitors have on average just six or seven strains.”
In order to bring a steady stream of innovative new probiotic products to the market, Probiotical is committed to an intensive programme of research and development. Its innovative research center dedicates an area covering 1,200 m² to a series of clean room laboratories divided into production, sterile, fermentation, cryoprotection, freeze-drying, grinding, mixing and packaging areas as well as quality control laboratories for product analysis and batch certifications.
“The focus of our research work is both explorative and applicationbased,” explains Ms. Mogna. “In the first instance, we are very concerned with investigating new probiotic strains with specific metabolic properties and functions while in the second we work to create effective products using these strains in which we can assure the strain’s individual properties until a defined expiry date.”
Examples of functional probiotic strains include strains that can produce vitamins such as B2, B12 and folic acid, strains with an anti-inflammatory action that can be used to treat IBS and IBD, strains with a strong action against e-coli, strains to treat infant gaseous colic and strains with antioxidant and anti-ageing complexes to protect against the typical degenerative diseases associated with ageing and lead to more healthy skin.
“There is a growing recognition within the scientific community of the connection between good intestinal health and overall wellbeing,” says Ms. Mogna. “We are also active in conducting clinical studies to prove the effectiveness of our products, many of which are classified as medical devices.”
The medical profession is now at the stage where probiotic products are often recommended in conjunction with a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off all bacteria, good and bad, and this is one of the reasons that intestinal problems often follow antibiotic treatment.
Probiotics help restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut to guard against this common side effect. A relatively new product that is bound to attract a great deal of attention is Bifisterol®, a blend of plant sterols and bifidobacterium. Clinical studies show cholesterol-lowering activity by probiotic strains only.
“We also expect great success for our Acticand® 30 blend of lactobacillus, FOS and Arabinogalactan which protects and is active against vaginal candidiasis as well as other forms of candida yeast infection not covered by other drugs or medicines,” says Ms. Mogna. “Another product that has had very positive results in clinical studies is Bifivir®, a product aimed at promoting intestinal health and supporting the immune system. This effect has been confirmed by medical studies.”
Around 25% of the products developed by Probiotical are marketed under its own name while the remaining 75% are produced and distributed for private label on behalf of major pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer and Merck.
“We work closely together with customers to develop products for specific markets,” describes Ms. Mogna. “We benefit from strong word of mouth and have won respect in the pharmaceutical world through the hard facts that have come from our clinical research. Our aim for the future is to continue to invest in research and look for new applications for our strains. We currently have major studies underway examining their effect on mental health and the connection between the brain and the intestine system. We believe that there could be connections between poor intestinal health and conditions such as autism.”
If this is the case then it holds out hope for a large number of patients and parents suffering from a condition that seems to be on the rise and to which there are few treatments and no cure.