Lonza becomes probiotic player

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Stomach, Helicobacter pylori

Gutsy move? Lonza enters the probiotics game
Gutsy move? Lonza enters the probiotics game
Swiss giant Lonza has plunged into the probiotics sector for the first time by licensing a gut ulcer battling Lactobacillus strain plucked from the 8000-strain strong vats of German contract research organisation, Organobalance.

The undisclosed deal (and strain variety) gives Lonza an exclusive global license to market the strain that recent peer-reviewed studies have shown can benefit stomach ulcer sufferers.

Project manager Gilles Jequier told NutraIngredients the move fitted with Lonza’s strategy to broaden its nutrition portfolio, although he said a product launch was unlikely within two years.

“We are in talks with several companies and looking into a health claim submission to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA),” ​he said. “We have data on the strain and need to evaluate that.”

He said the strain variety could not yet be revealed due to IP issues that needed to be resolved with Organobalance.

While the strain has not been submitted to EFSA for a health claim, structure-function claims in the US may be more achievable short-term.

The nutrition landscape

In a statement, Roman Quinter, senior vice president and head of nutrition ingredients business at Lonza added: “This agreement with Oganobalance creates a basis for Lonza to enter the probiotic market - a market with vast growth potential – with a unique ingredient.”

“Lonza is a global leader in the manufacturing of intermediates and API’s for the pharmaceutical industry through biotechnology and fermentation. Integrating the Lactobacillus anti-H. pylori strain into our nutrition ingredient portfolio provides an opportunity to leverage our strong biotech expertise and knowledge to provide a highly effective product to the nutrition landscape.“

Scientific backing

Lactobacillus ​has been shown in studies to battle ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori.​ A recent Spanish study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology ​found a Lactobacillus strain could be a, “promising tool”​ against the, “development of gastritis and gastric and duodenal ulcers”.

But EFSA has rejected 100 per cent of probiotic dossiers it has assessed so far including numerous Lactobacillus ​strains, causing consternation among industry and much of academia, although the rulings have yet to dent sales of probiotic marquee products like those of Danone and Yakult.

Indeed they have risen for many products in Europe, the US and elsewhere, a somewhat beguiling fact that adds complexity to the unfolding probiotic story Lonza has just entered.

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