07 Nov 2017 --- Rapid diagnostic testing in combination with Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis supplementation for 60 days has been linked to a significant increase in height and significantly less recurrent diarrhea in study of 71 infants with acute diarrhea, as compared to standard care and placebo treatment. Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis is a strain developed by Swedish healthcare company BioGaia.
“These results are very exciting. Our trial has shown that the administration of L. reuteri DSM 17938 shows real promise to mitigate the devastating effects of diarrheal disease in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Associate Professor Jeffrey Pernica at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Canada, lead investigator of the study.
“Previous probiotic trials have focused on outcomes such as duration of diarrhea, which are somewhat relevant for families and clinicians, but not nearly as important as a hard outcome such as standardized height, which has been directly linked to stunting, cognitive deficiencies, and eventual adult accomplishment,” Pernica explains. “The combination of test-and-treat diagnostics and L. reuteri DSM 17938 was associated with 93 percent lower odds of recurrent diarrhea in the 60-day follow-up period, as well as a dramatic increase in age-standardized height.”
Diarrhea kills and disables children
Diarrhea is the second-leading cause of mortality in the world among children under the age of 5, as well as a major cause of both growth failure and impaired cognitive development. There is a clear need for improvements in diarrheal disease management in resource-limited settings.
The pilot study was conducted in Botswana and demonstrated that the use of molecular rapid enteric diagnostics (permitting timely targeted antimicrobial therapy) and the administration of L. reuteri Protectis were both feasible in a resource-limited sub-Saharan African context. These interventions led to significant increases in growth and decreases in recurrent diarrhea. The next step will be to validate these findings in a trial with a much larger number of children.
BioGaia first announced the results in October 2015 when the study was presented for the first time at The Infectious Disease Week in San Diego, USA, but the findings were published in PLOS ONE on 9 October.
“We had announced the results of this study already, in October 2015, but now have the opportunity to highlight them again. The fact that L. reuteri Protectis may mitigate terrible consequences of diarrheal disease, like stunting, cognitive deficiencies, and eventual adult accomplishments, and contribute to a decrease in recurrent diarrhea, increased growth and improved quality of life for children in sub-Saharan countries is very encouraging”, says Axel Sjöblad, Managing Director at BioGaia.
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