After testing several varieties of L. casei from its own bank of strains, Chr Hansen researchers found one that demonstrated strong satiety effects, and so decided to launched ProSat, to continue research activities and work towards bringing a product to market, although this was unlikely within two years.
Marketing director of probiotic cultures and commercial development, Lars Bredmose, told NutraIngredients.com Chr Hansen’s work in the area had attracted the interest of functional foods and food supplements makers, and products such as one-shot yoghurt drinks and juices, as well as food supplements were likely targets.
“The initial studies show very strong results in the ability of our strain of L. casei to promote satiety via an effect on blood hormones,” Bredmose said. “We are in discussions with functional foods global leaders and are very excited about this.”
One ex-vivo study remains unpublished, Bredmose said, as Chr Hansen is awaiting patent approval related to the strain, expected at the end of the year, after which it would publish some of its research including a clinical trial due for completion in 3-4 months.
Signs of satiety
Chr Hansen director of innovation in its health and nutrition division, Benedicte Flambard, said Chr Hansen had screened about 10 L. casei strains but only one had demonstrated a pronounced satiety effect in a simulated gut.
The ex-vivo results had spurred further research, including the ongoing clinical trial.
“We know it gives an effect in humans and animals,” Flambard said. “We are focusing on this now and seeking further documentation of its effects. We expect to publish clinical data next year.”
He said probiotics had appeal as satiety-promoting ingredients in a market dominated by more established players such as protein and fibre forms, due to potential formulation ease and dosage benefits.
“It’s a good marketing story because of the natural link with probiotics,” Bredmose said. “It can also deliver benefits with smaller dosage than some other ingredients and this can provide manufacturers with significant cost benefits.”
Products containing L. casei were designed for slightly overweight people and those seeking to maintain their body weight, but not the obese, he said, as this condition required other treatments and lifestyle changes.
He suggested the best means of consumption of L. casei products was before meals.
“They are designed as snack food items,” Bredmose said of prototypes Chr Hansen was developing.
Obesity expert, professor Arne Astrup, co-representative of the University of Copenhagen in ProSat, added: “This project will significantly improve our understanding of the bacterial intestinal flora’s importance in individual weight management. Initial results in a previous research project indicate that specific probiotic derivates do have an interesting satiety effect.”
But she said “it was much too early to draw any conclusions.”
The weight management market is estimated to be worth more than €5bn globally by some analysts.