The multiyear agreement specifically takes an interest in the probiotic lactobacilli and associated strains that play a role in inflammation and infection in the vaginal area, seen in conditions such as bacterial vaginosis.
“Traditional treatment options have been centred around antibiotics and antifungals to get rid of the infection, but without focus on re-establishing a healthy balanced vaginal microbiota and in some cases causing an even more severe disruption,” explains Titti Niskanen, Director R&D & Clinical Operations at Probi.
“Thus, vaginal probiotics may have an important role in establishing healthy microbial communities in a natural way and thereby helping maintain vaginal health.”
Probi, which recently struck a deal with Perrigo to look into probiotic concepts for digestive and immune health, will contribute with our expertise and capabilities within product development and commercialisation.
“The collaboration is very important as we will get access to a unique and proprietary bacterial strain library relevant for vaginal application,” adds Niskanen.
“Our collaborators have longstanding scientific expertise within this health area, which complements well our contribution.”
Based in Tartu, CCHT’s expertise includes the use of probiotics in reproductive medicine, where the firm has been able to compile a ‘genital microorganism culture collection (CREP)’ containing over 1000 microorganism strains that represents one of the three Estonian Electronic Microbial Database volumes.
The biotechnology-focused company are currently in the midst of developing a DNA-based method for determining the composition and origin of honey, scheduled to end in March 2023.
The method will make it possible to identify the honey-derived plant, the DNA of other organisms (eg insects), the honey’s geographical origin and whether it is syrup-based or genuine bee-produced honey.
‘Scientifically validated probiotics’
“We are hoping to introduce novel and scientifically validated probiotics with benefits for several gynaecological disorders,” says CCHT’s Professor Reet Mändar, who is also based at the University of Tartu.
“I am looking forward to this highly synergistic cooperation with our scientific expertise in combination with Probi’s skills in product development and commercialisation.”
“It was their longstanding expertise within this health area that attracted us as well as the access to their collection of unique and proprietary bacterial strains relevant for vaginal application,” adds Niskanen.
“This together with the synergistic set up will provide great opportunities for the development of novel products based on probiotic lactobacilli strains.”
According to Probi, 70% of all women are likely to experience at least one episode of yeast infection with 30% expected to suffer from bacterial vaginosis (inflammation caused by bacteria), many of which will have recurrent episodes.
Common for many vaginal infections is a disturbance of the vaginal microbiota where the normal protective lactobacilli dominated microbiota has been disrupted.
Innova Market Insights identifies 96 new vaginal health supplement launches in 2020 and 74 of these contained probiotics, corresponding to 77% of overall vaginal health supplement launches.
An unmet need?
Analysis by Lumina Intelligence suggests that women are turning to probiotics as a natural alternative to conventional solutions, especially where reoccurring pains and infections occur, such as those linked to vaginal health.
Further analysis of the 252 probiotic products for women currently available include supplements, juices and cosmetics.
The report, which looks into 20 countries, found L. Acidophilus, L. Rhamnosus and L. Plantarum amongst the top ten most popular bacterial species to be used as a probiotic for women’s health.
Along with Probi, other players in this sector include Lallemand Health Solutions, which made available the L. plantarum P17630 probiotic strain in July 2020, that addresses recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis.
“Probiotics are well established as having health benefits within vaginal health, but there are ample opportunities for improved products on the market,” says Tom Rönnlund, CEO of Probi, which as part of the collaboration will get access to CCHT’s proprietary bacterial strain library.
“A long-term collaboration with CCHT will add new expertise and opportunities into Probi’s R&D portfolio and we are excited about the formation of this new relationship.”