Probiotics are the largest non-herbal traditional dietary supplements category in the global market. The World Health Organization define probiotics as live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. A probiotic strain must be viable (live), at an expected concentration (quantity) and proven to deliver a health benefit to the consumer (health claim). A strain is a genetic variant of a species.

Probiotics are widely used because they can address many health conditions such as:

General Health

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To promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria for optimum digestion, nutrient absorption, metabolic balance for weight management, and general wellbeing.

Gut Health

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Treating and preventing episodes of diarrhea and constipation, including restoring the natural balance of the gut after disturbances such as antibiotic treatments, and managing conditions such as IBD.

Compete with Harmful Bacteria

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Reduce the number of harmful bacteria by competing for space and resources in the gut.

Immune System Boost

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Promoting a healthy gut biome to help support and enhance the immune system's responses, and potentially reducing the severity of some allergies.

Importance of Viable Cell Count

Manufacturers and consumers should concern themselves with ensuring that what’s in the product matches what’s on the label. This includes ensuring the viable cell count of their products: the verification of viable cells of the specific strain ensures that the product will deliver the intended health benefits.

Probiotic Health Benefits are Strain Specific

Probiotic health benefits are strain specific and dose dependent. Therefore authenticity testing for probiotics requires reliable methods that can achieve strain-level identification and viable cell count of multi-strain probiotic products.

In qPCR, a specific sequence region of DNA is targeted and amplified to rapidly create millions of copies of this region to make it detectable. Methods are developed for each target probiotic strain to ensure specificity and no cross reactivity with closely related strains, making it ideal to identify target strains in raw ingredients as well as in multi-strain finished products.

Genus, Species and Strain

  • Probiotic health benefits are strain specific
  • Species level ID does not identify which strain is in the product
  • In products with multiple strains from the same species, species level ID can't confirm the presence of multiple strains

Why PCR for Probiotics?

Viability PCR (v-PCR) allows for the enumeration of individual strains in a multi-strain product. The ability to achieve enumeration to the strain level is important because health benefits are strain specific and dose dependent. Strain-level v-PCR provides companies with the ability to enumerate probiotics at strain level, to monitor stability of each strain, observe quantities and potential overages, and assess the impact of new protectants or additives on single or multi-strain blends.

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