There is also a rise in probiotics research on metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes as well as cancer in this period of time.
This is according to ProBioQuest, a database set up by researchers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, HSK Genetech, and Tianjin Medical University.
The database, which is now live, was constructed to collect up-to-date literature related to probiotics from PubMed.gov, ClinicalTrials.gov, and PatentsView.
Using keywords such as ‘bacteria’, ‘probiotic’, ‘gut microbiome’, ‘gut microbiota’, ‘disease with gut’ and ‘health with gut’, they retrieved over 2.8 million articles.
Based on the data collected, between 2016 and 2020, over 1,000 new studies assessing probiotics and inflammation were published, making inflammation the most studied condition in probiotics related studies.
Taking the probiotics LGG as an example, year 2020 was the year where most of the research linking LGG and inflammation – numbered at 101 – were published.
The next most studied condition was dysbiosis, with nearly 1,000 new studies published in this period.
Cancer, diabetes, and diarrhoea were the other commonly studied diseases for probiotics research.
“Inflammation and dysbiosis have clearly grown in numbers. Specific diseases of awareness on metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes and oxidative stress also increased in the past 10 years.
“Researchers seem to have shifted their interest from probiotics functions in gastrointestinal issues like colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhoea and constipation to more physiological conditions,” the researchers pointed out.
Rise in psychobiotics studies
The researchers also noted an exponential rise in psychobiotics studies.
“Almost all results on anxiety come from the past 5 years, indicating a rise in psychobiotics studies,” they said.
Aside from anxiety, the other psychological conditions with increased attention include autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
“When we used the keywords ‘probiotic’ or ‘probiotics’ and ‘autism’ with database ‘all’ and preference ‘most relevant’ to search, the page of this entry displayed a total of 164 results, many were relevant to ASD and probiotics, from 2002 to 2021. That topic of studies gradually increased from 2018.”
Epilepsy, on the other hand, is a relatively new area of study, with only 20 results found between 2015 and 2021 when the keywords ‘probiotic or probiotics’ and ‘epilepsy’ were searched on PubMed.
When it comes to the specific bacteria genera and species studied, results such as Prevotella, Bacteroides, Clostridium difficile and Entamoeba histolytica were found.
“These bacteria and their genomes can provide a starting point to find probiotic strains with potentials to reduce the frequency of seizures,” said the researchers.
For supplement manufacturers, scientists, and public
Open for public access, the researchers believe the database is not only useful for scientists, health professionals, but also dietary supplement manufacturers and the general public.
“ProBioQuest would serve as an important collection of up-to-date credible journal articles and clinical trials to assist manufacturers, especially those not familiar with scientific research in the field of probiotics, to evaluate and validate the beneficial effects of probiotics and formulate evidence-based probiotic products with clinical efficacy.
“By using ProBioQuest, manufacturers can not only explore the technologies of promoting probiotic survival along the gastrointestinal tract and manufacturing process but also the potential for their innovations to be patented,” said the researchers.
The setting up of ProBioQuest was partly supported by the Research Impact Fund provided by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, PRC and by Wong & Chui Charitable Foundation Limited.
Other existing probiotics databases include one by Alliance for Education on Probiotics (AEProbio) which looks at probiotics available in the US, one by Optibac Probiotics, as well as one by Watson’s which is available among in-house pharmacists in Singapore.
ProBioQuest: a database and semantic analysis engine for literature, clinical trials and patents related to probiotics
Authors: Po Lam Chan and et al