Dr Hall’s group at the Quadram Institute have formulated a probiotic milk treatment for premature babies.If the treatment is successful, there are a number of regional businesses within the microbiome products and food supplements sector that can help manufacture and distribute products. Dr Hall’s group could work with companies like ProfBiotics, who sell and develop nutritional supplements locally in Norwich, or Microbiotica for licensing option and mass production to market. This treatment could help reduce the number of infant deaths from premature babies. Approximately one in eight babies are born early. This leaves the infant vulnerable to outside infections and complications. A major infection that premature babies face is necrotising enterocolitis. This infection leads to death of parts of the bowel and with one in five infected babies not surviving.
Research has investigated gut bacteria populations of infants
To overcome this, research has investigated gut bacteria populations of infants. It was found that premature infants have completely different gut bacteria (microbiome) to other infants who have more friendly bacteria that act as the first-line of defence normally. Why premature babies have different gut microbiomes is not clear yet, but the development of a new probiotic milk treatment by the Hall lab may reveal some answers whilst saving infants.
The new probiotic milk treatment is being trialled at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS trust. Premature babies are being fed breast milk containing a mix of gut bacteria. It is hoped that this will increase the number of bacteria from the bifida group. This will help populate their gut microbiome with the good bacteria they would not normally acquire due to premature birth. This treatment is being tested at the NNUH and could save lives by reducing number of infections occurring in premature infants. Results will be formally published soon, and it is hoped the treatment will be adopted not just across the UK, but globally.
Read more about opportunities on Microbiome products in the GioBio report here