Ahemadabad: Two probiotic cultures developed indigenously by the Anand Agriculture University (AAU) in Gujarat for supplements and dairy products have now been made available for commercial use, a top university official said.

Probiotic organisms are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganism found in the human gut. They are also called 'friendly bacteria or good bacteria'. Probiotics are available to consumers mainly in the form of dietary supplements and foods.

"Isolated in 1990 and tested in the last 20 years, the first two indigenous probiotic cultures from India- Lactobacillus helveticus MTCC 5463 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus MTCC 5462-- are now available to the industry for probiotic products manufacture," AAU Vice Chancellor A M Sheikh said.

Seth Mansukhlal Chhaganlal (SMC) College of Dairy Science, working under AAU, has deposited the two Indian probiotic cultures as Indian patent deposits at the Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh.

Probiotic culture is a cluster of micro-organisms that have the ability to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the human digestive tract. When taken as dietary supplements, probiotic cultures increase the amount of healthy gut flora that are naturally present in the stomach and large intestines.

Currently, such cultures are largely imported from Denmark by the dairy and other food industry of India to manufacture probiotic products. Its estimated market size is around USD 20 million in the country.

"Using these cultures, we have already filed an Indian patent for a process to manufacture a herbal probiotic fermented milk product 'lassi' also having herbal content- safed Musli," Head of Dairy Microbiology Department at SMC Dr J B Prajapati told.

Lassi is further being tested by the SMC to check its potential in reducing the cholesterol level in humans.

"Volunteers have been recruited to conduct clinical trials of the probiotic lassi with a view to check its potential to reduce cholesterol levels in humans," he said.

"The clinical trials of these probiotic cultures have shown that they help in maintaining microbial population in the intestine. It helps promote good bacteria, thereby getting rid of stomach ailments," Prajapti said.

"Preliminary tests conducted to check effect of these cultures in help containing cholesterol levels in humans showed positive results. It showed potential to reduce cholesterol levels upto 20 per cent," he said.

"Now we are planning to conduct bigger trials in this direction so as to take the research to the next level," he said.

AAU has also undertaken a project with a local university here to check potential of these cultures to help improve immunity level amongst old people.

"We have undertaken a three-year-long project with Karamsad Medical College in Gujarat, to check how helpful these indigenous probiotic cultures can help improve immunity levels amongst old people, who are above 60," Prajapati said.

"These cultures can be given to other research institutions and hospitals for further clinical trials," he said.

AAU, in collaboration with Sweden's Lund University, has proposed to take the research and trials on these cultures to next level.

Dr Baboo Nair, Professor Emeritus from Lund University worked at AAU last year under an exchange programme. "He has developed a special International masters programme in Food Science and Biotechnology for a possible joint-venture between AAU and Lund University," Sheikh said.

These probiotic cultures are fully sequenced, using the pyrosequencer located at our Animal Biotechnology Department.

More than 8,000 gene sequences from these cultures have been deposited in Genebank at National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a statement from AAU said.



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