The Akkermansia Company Weight Management with Glucose Control product is in the running to win the award for 'Product of the Year: Microbiome Modulation'.
The product is composed of the next-gen bacteria, pasteurised Akkermansia muciniphila, with green tea extract and chromium.
Numerous studies have shown that Akkermansia has a potential positive impact on a range of health conditions particularly on key metabolic indicators.
Speaking to NutraIngredients ahead of the online awards ceremony next Wednesday (May 3), CEO of the Belgium-based company Michael Oredsson discusses their hero ingredient.
"Postbiotics are separate molecules or soluble factors secreted by live bacteria that are released after bacteriolysis (dissolution process of bacteria), providing physiological benefits to the host. In our case, that's not entirely true because it's not just a factor or molecule, it's actually the entire bacteria with its surface bound proteins."
"But the most important thing to say about the strain that we sell is that we selected the pasteurised version, rather than the live version, because it was more effective in clinical development."
He explains pasteurised, or heat-killed, bacteria don't lose their potency as quickly as a probiotic does and don't need refrigeration or special encapsulation techniques to ensure it reaches the gut alive making it much easier to integrate into a range of products.
Currently the firm is concentrating on selling this ingredient within a capsule supplement, with its official commercial launch last year, initially in Belgium, and then into Italy and France, with plans for further expansion ongoing.
Discussing consumer perception of postbiotics, Oredsson says the firm has done some research into this and has confirmed what they had already assumed, that very few know what the term 'postbiotic' means.
"I'm not even sure the understanding of 'probiotics' and 'prebiotics' is perfect but we have found other ways of discussing what we are offering, such as by discussing a 'next-generation strain', or a 'next-generation gut health proposition', works better than 'postbiotic'.
"We have to use language that consumers are excited about, so 'postbiotics' is not quite cutting it I'm afraid."
Revealing the company's recent scientific advancements, Oredsson says the firm is just finishing a large trial looking at the impact on hyperglycaemia, insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular risk factors, inflammation, and weight management in pre-diabetic patients, as a continuation of a pilot trial published in Nature Medicine.
"We also have a trial on weight management we will publish in quarter four, looking at the ability of subjects to maintain a low weight, versus placebo, to better maintain lost weight. So that's an interesting protocol. The trial needs to be conducted over a long time period so that makes the data all the more credible results."
Akkermansia life history
Akkermansia muciniphila was isolated, identified and characterised by Prof. Willem M. de Vos (Wageningen University – The Netherlands) and his team in 2004.
Prof. Willem M. de Vos and Prof. Patrice D. Cani, from UCLouvain, Belgium, collaborated in 2008 and founded The Akkermansia Company in 2016, with an aim to develop and patent the species.
Application for the approval of pasteurised Akkermansia muciniphila as a novel food ingredient in the European Union was made in 2019. One year later saw the publication of the toxicological safety evaluation of the strain and in 2021, Akkermansia became the first next-gen bacterium to get EFSA approval.