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Next- Generation Probiotics: From Commensal Bacteria to Novel Drugs and Food Supplements

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Nowadays, emerging evidences point out the positive effect of some bacterial strains in different health issues, mainly related to the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Probiotics are defined as ‘live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’. This concept is ...

Nowadays, emerging evidences point out the positive effect of some bacterial strains in different health issues, mainly related to the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Probiotics are defined as ‘live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’. This concept is based on the observations made by Elie Metchnikoff in which the consumption of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) in fermented products was associated with enhanced health and longevity in Bulgarian villages.

Today, most of the microorganisms considered as “probiotics” belong to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Nevertheless, these genera are not dominant in the intestinal microbiota in adults. This observation, combined to the increasing knowledge of the human microbiome, suggests that a large number of potential novel probiotic candidates can be isolated from the dominant members of the adult microbiota. In this sense, the literature highlights the interest of several species such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Akkermansia muciniphila as potential next-generation probiotics (NGPs).

These new candidates should accomplish several requisites including safety requirements and well established beneficial effects on the host before being considered as probiotics. Furthermore, as probiotic benefits are usually strain-specific, individual studies are required to assert the positive effect of each single candidate strain. In this sense, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Food Safe Administration (EFSA) have established several guidelines for the correct definition and evaluation of probiotics. However, bacteria with no history of documented past safe use in Europe prior to 1997 are classified as novel foods, increasing the number of requirements to reach their commercialization as food complements. This process is so difficult that several novel biotechnological companies are now based on the use of commensal bacteria in novel drugs. They have somewhere given up the idea to use these NGPs in either food or food supplements and they are favouring discussion with European Medicines Agency (EMA) to use them in novel drugs. They are betting on the fact that the confirmation of health benefits of such NGPs in patients population will be easier to get than in a general population.

Research articles to be published in this Topic (original research articles, commentaries, opinion papers and reviews) should contribute understanding (i) the beneficial effects of the use of these NGPs and/or (ii) the difficulties that nowadays are found to their commercialization. With these aims, articles should investigate or discuss the following issues:
- Isolation and characterization of new beneficial microorganisms
- Cross-talk of beneficial microorganisms with the host
- Cross-feeding processes between potential beneficial bacteria
- Function and mechanisms of action of potential probiotic candidates
- Potential probiotic candidates against intestinal pathogens
- Bacterial effectors responsible of the beneficial bacterial effects.
- New tools to analyse and identify potential probiotic candidates: omics and bioinformatics approaches
- Novel food and food complements
- Novel drugs


Keywords: probiotic, commensal, food complements, novel drugs


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