New methods in probiotics discovery & development: the advent of precision probiotics


TargEDys, Longjumeau, France


While microorganisms and fermentation have accompanied humans since as far as it goes, the concept of beneficial bacteria is relatively recent, and still in its first steps. When the first probiotic products were developed a few decades ago, the process started from the strains able to grow in the laboratory, then tested to find if they exerted benefits on the host. This led to a plethora of conflicting results and confusion with regards to recommendations. Here, we comment that recent whole genome sequencing and molecular biology techniques have opened the door to a new discovery journey for the next generation of probiotics, which can now be developed starting from the molecular trait envisioned down to the selection of the strain able to synthetize such metabolites, and to the adaptation of the process, ensuring better efficacy and understanding of the mechanism of action.


In the beginning of human history, the impossibility to perceive the microscopic world through our senses didn’t allow our ancestors to have even an intuition of microbes existence. Bacteria were observed for the first time by Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek in 1676 in Delph. He was a merchant who started building his own microscopes, which resulted incredibly a hundred times more potent than any other lens at the time.


He described, completely fascinated, the animalcules he found in water, on his teeth, and spent the next decades observing anything that fell under his hand through the lens of the miniature world. Later, in 1854, Vibrio cholerae was discovered under the microscope and its responsibility in causing cholera was identified. This set microbiology as a science of pathogen study for the next couple of centuries, leading to tremendous progress in sanitation and public health.


This was an extremely unfair vision, however, considering that only 1 microbe in a billion is a pathogen (1400 pathogens have been described (1) thus far and latest estimates predict Earth is home to a tr ...