New bacteria to fight allergy symptoms

Related tags Lactic acid bacteria Immune system Allergy Allergies

Japan's Kirin Group has discovered a lactic acid bacteria with
potent anti-allergy effects that could be used to fight the rising
incidence of allergies, such as hay fever. The research
demonstrates the firm's growing interest in the health foods

Japan's Kirin Group has discovered a lactic acid bacteria with potent anti-allergy effects. The bacteria could be used to fight the onset of allergies, such as hay fever, affecting an increasing number of people in developed countries.

In comparative research on more than 100 strains of lactic acid bacteria, Kirin found that Lactobacillus KW​ improved allergy symptoms in animal models. Further tests in human subjects with hay fever showed that the bacteria, added to yoghurt, significantly reduced symptoms of the allergy, reported researchers at the Japanese Society of Allergology meeting in October.

Consumer interest in lactic acid bacteria for health benefits is increasing with research showing that live bacteria may help digestive functions and boost the immune system.

Allergies are also on the rise, with incidence of hay fever, food allergies and atopic dermatitis growing, particularly in developed countries. Conventional medication can only treat symptoms and researchers continue to seek treatments that could actual physiological improvement.

Researchers from Kirin Brewery's Central Laboratories for Key Technology investigated the effects of more than 100 strains of lactic acid bacteria in balancing the lymphocytes known as Th1 and Th2 in spleen cells from animal modies with allergy. An imbalance in the lymphocytes, due to Th2 dominance, has been associated with allergies.

The bacteria exhibited different anti-allergy effects. A strain of Lactobacillus paracasei (named Lactobacillus KW) exhibited the greatest ability to improve the Th1/Th2 balance, resulting in expectations that it will be effective against the underlying causes of allergies.

Further tests of ingestion using allergy animal models indicated that the ingestion of Lactobacillus KW reduces the level of IgE, an indicator of allergic conditions, in the blood and improves the Th1/Th2 balance.

Kirin also investigated anti-allergy effects in people suffering from hay fever. Test subjects were asked to eat yoghurt containing Lactobacillus KW. The yoghurt containing bacteria exhibited twice the effect of conventional yoghurt in improving the Th1/Th2 balance, according to Kirin. Reduction in symptoms such as itching, pain and nasal discharge also demonstrated the effectiveness of Lactobacillus KW against hay fever.

Stocks in Kirin climbed 2.73 per cent to 904 yen the day after it announced the research. The alcoholic drinks company is moving into the health sector with research into food and health.

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