Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, May 2018

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■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK Probiotics/Prebiotics MAY 2018 But even then, neither academia nor in- dustry's task will be complete. As Jäger says, "What will it take to translate our increasing knowledge of the microbiome into dietary supplements or functional foods? Clinical trials. Microbiome research allows us to pick the best-suited strains for specif c target groups—but any potential benef ts need to be validated in human clinical study." So, hurry up and wait. But as you do, ex- plore the following areas to see lessons we've learned, and longer-term questions we still have to answer. Methods and Models One basic lesson we've learned from research on the human microbiome is that not all strains of gut microbes are the same—nor, even, are all species or subspecies. Yet be- cause getting the isolate just right is impor- tant if you want to develop a probiotic that performs the desired functions, it's a relief to know that laboratory technology keeps marching on. "Technologies are improving the resolu- tion with which we can identify bacterial strain-to-strain variance in individuals and the functions that some strains encode to benef t health," says Petrosino. "T ese dif er- ences will have important ramif cations in the selection of microbes used to treat dis- ease and promote health." And that's not all. "Improvements in cul- tures and animal-model systems are en- abling us to understand what the microbes we associate with health and disease are do- ing in the host environment," he adds. "Recent improvements in identifying viruses, fungi, and other members of the microbiome and their roles in health and disease will further impact this f eld." One Size Does Not Fit All What makes the "perfect" human microbi- ome? Turns out there is no such thing. Notes de Souza, even when looking at microbes from the same genera, "scientists have found signif cant variations in number among healthy individuals. T ese f ndings challenge the concept of an ideal 'healthy' microbiome." A more enlightened goal to pursue is what de Souza calls a healthy "functional core"— that is, a subset of metabolic and other mo- lecular functions that the microbiome per- forms within a particular habitat, "but that can be provided by dif erent organisms in dif erent people," he says. "Having the ability to maintain a healthy microbiome regardless of the def nition, and potentially to identify, enrich, and maintain those microbe groups One basic lesson we've learned is that not all strains of gut microbes are the same— nor, even, are all species or subspecies.

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