Kimere is an African fermented food, a type of millet-based porridge regularly consumed in a specific region near Mount Kenya in Africa. The naturally-occurring fermentation process of Kimere yields a variety of strains, most notably L. fermentum, and of those the most promising have been isolated.
The company’s plant-derived strain combination includes Lactobacillus plantarum K4-Lb6, L. fermentum K2-Lb6, L. fermentum K7-Lb1, L. fermentum K8-Lb1, L. fermentum K1-Lb1, and L. fermentum K11-Lb3.
“This unique blend has never been offered before in the US, nor in other parts of the world, for that matter,” Gregory Bonfilio, Co-CEO of Slimbiotics’ new US entity, told NutraIngredients-USA. “The first showing of Slimbiotics was a small booth at SupplySide in the fall of 2021. We are in the process of building out the sales and business development platform, which will be supported by the technical dossier, and hope to offer Slimbiotics by the beginning of next year.”
Bonfilio will share CEO duties with Brian Peeters. Both are veterans of the biotics industry who have extensive experience building commercial sales across various market channels and product categories.
Bonfilio explained that the discovery of the strains began with a group of medical researchers, including a Kenyan-born PhD student, who were studying native African food sources that could improve the constellation of symptoms related to metabolic health, such as impaired glucose metabolism and insulin resistance.
The strains in Kimere were isolated and characterized for their anti-inflammatory and gut barrier enhancing properties to increase microbial diversity and potentially help reduce weight-associated risks from changing metabolic conditions.
Patents and patent-applications around the strains are based almost entirely on pre-clinical screening work, explained Bonfilio, before adding that the company has two human studies ongoing at present, “one which is basically complete and in the statistical analysis period.
“There is a second larger study that will be completed during the summer, with analysis and reporting that might take until December,” he said. “Further to the first two studies, we have a schedule to complete 2-3 additional full scale human studies within the next 18 months.”
Slimbiotics GmbH was founded by Austrian entrepreneurs Helmut Essl and Alexander Schütz with the goal of developing plant-derived, clinically-backed biotics and making them available to consumers looking to maintain a healthy weight and overall metabolic wellbeing. Previous to Slimbiotics, Essl was the founder and CEO of HSO Health Care GmbH, a company offering the branded probiotic solution, Astarte, targeting women's urogenital health. Astarte was acquired by Chr. Hansen in 2020.
The company also announced this week that Juan Victor Wang Xu has been appointed CEO of Slimbiotics GmbH. Xu, who previously worked for Chr Hansen and HSO Health Care, is responsible for stewarding the global growth of the parent company and brand.
"Slimbiotics' founding was based on a unique and ambitious formula, and its high value was immediately clear to me," said Essl. "Victor, Brian, and Greg were equally inspired by the Slimbiotics opportunity and are motivated to break new ground in the biotics landscape. These three are among the most ambitious and successful managers in the biotics market and have played key roles in the development of emerging probiotic sectors.
“With our new team in place, we have the promise of success, and we are all very much looking forward to expanding our offerings in North and Latin America and other new geographic regions together."
The microbiota’s role in weight management
A link between the gut microbiota and obesity was first reported in 2006 by Jeffrey Gordon and his group at Washington University in St. Louis, who found that microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people, and that when the obese people lost weight their microflora reverted back to that observed in a lean person. This suggested that obesity has a microbial component (Nature, Vol. 444, pp. 1022-1023, 1027-1031).
A 2013 paper in Science (Vol. 341, Issue 6150), also led by Prof Gordon, found that transplanting gut bacteria from obese humans into germ-free mice leads to greater weight gain and fat accumulation than mice that were given bacteria from the guts of lean humans.
The findings showed that weight and fat gain is influenced by communities of microbes in the gut and their effect on the physical and metabolic traits of the host, leading to metabolic changes in the rodents that are associated with obesity in humans.
This has led many research groups to explore if probiotics may help manage weight. A probiotic is defined as a “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” – FAO/WHO.