Danish probiotics leader Chr Hansen, which ditched a €4m immunity trial for some of its probiotic strains last year, is participating in a new trial to determine if probiotics can reduce the number of infections in small children.
Nine to 15 month old babies are the ProbiComp study’s focus. It will use Chr Hansen’s BB-12 blend of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp lactis.
“With more than 20 clinical studies on BB-12 already conducted with children, we have a clear indication of an effect of BB-12. The ProbiComp project adds weight to our ambitious program of probiotic clinical studies,” said Dorte Eskesen, senior scientific advisor in the Health & Nutrition Division at Chr Hansen.
In a statement Chr hasen added: “The children will be given BB-12 with a view to investigating if this particular strain can reduce the number of sick days caused by infections. Samples will be taken to document how the lactic acid bacteria affect the children’s immune system, gut flora and intestinal system. In addition the study will generate knowledge about the frequency of specific infections and allergies.”
The company wrote off the previous €4m after it delivered results that were insufficient to attain an EU health claim under the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR). It has another two probiotic trials in the pipeline, focusing on gastrointestinal health, but no probiotic has yet impressed EU authorities enough to grant a health claim.
“We have no indication [of the results] at the moment,” CEO Lars Frederiksen told Foodnavigator last week as the firm delivered Q1 earnings of €48m on revenue of €179m.
“Much of the harm has already been done to the probiotic market. If the trials come out negative I am not so overly concerned about the negative impact on our numbers.”
Last year a US trial using BB-12 found reduced duration of common colds among typically stressed out students.
The study gave 1 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of each strain or placebo to about 200 US college students, with the study group experiencing colds that lasted four days as opposed to six in the placebo group – coupled with a 34% reduction in severity.
“We are not giving up on immunity,” Frederiksen said last year. “We remain committed to the field and selling documented products.”