Probiotic peanut allergy treatment: Chr. Hansen enters new partnership


18 Apr 2018 --- Chr. Hansen's probiotic strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG), can potentially play a part in peanut allergy treatment, according to new data. Prota Therapeutics, developer of oral immunotherapies to treat food allergies, has partnered with Chr. Hansen, Danish food ingredients producer, to assess LGG in a clinical trial to develop a treatment for the allergy. Chr. Hansen tells NutritionInsight that the partnership is in effect as from today, and strengthens the position of Chr. Hansen in a market expected to grow to €10 billion by 2025.

An effective therapy to treat peanut allergies is now a realistic target. Chr. Hansen is the ideal partner for us in this next step, both as the owner of one of the key components in the therapeutic product – LGG – and as a leading expert in microbial solutions, says Dr. Suzanne Lipe, CEO at Prota Therapeutics.

“Chr. Hansen has demonstrated the capability to deliver a pharmaceutical quality product that can be regulated as a biological therapeutic product. Together with our proprietary peanut protein formulation, we aim to progress this through to commercialization of a treatment for peanut allergies, she adds. 

Thomas Gundelund Rasmussen, Director, Human Health and Microbiome Innovation tells NutritionInsight that regarding the medicine hitting the shelves, the process could take some time: It will be approximately three years for the phase three clinical study, which is followed by discussions with the US FDA. After which, Prota intends to submit a Biologics License Application to FDA.

However, he predicts that the company expects that these developments will, further strengthen the value and demand for LGG outside the Pharma world, thus strengthening our existing probiotics business for non-pharma applications.

Continuing clinical trials
Numerous studies have highlighted the therapeutic potential of specific bacteria in preventing and treating metabolic, gastrointestinal and other diseases. Investigating particular bacteria for the treatment of food allergies is an area that has recently gained momentum.

Prota Therapeutics is pioneering a new form of oral immunotherapy treatment. It combines Chr. Hansen’s specially formulated LGG probiotic strain with targeted doses of proprietary formulations of peanut protein. The procedure is designed to reprogram the immune system’s response to peanuts and eventually develop tolerance.

Building upon earlier trials conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Prota Therapeutics is progressing towards a large-scale Phase III clinical trial, under a US Investigational New Drug Application (IND). 

The aim is to commercialize a medicinal product using a new pharmaceutical-grade therapeutic dosage form for treating peanut allergy and to explore indications for treating other food allergies.

Chr. Hansen has the ability to maximize the value of a probiotic strain through our deep experience in microbial process development and formulation, our focus on quality, and our global reach. The partnership with Prota Therapeutics is part of our strategy to become the partner of choice for companies wanting to develop new generations of therapeutic microbes, says Christian Barker, Executive Vice President, Health & Nutrition at Chr. Hansen.

Speaking to our sister website, FoodIngredientsFirst, earlier this month, Christoffer Lorenzen, EVP Food Cultures & Enzymes at Chr. Hansen stated that they were excited about the use of microorganisms and the huge potential they hold for innovation.

“We want to enter into more partnerships in the food sector and to cater to dialogs related to health and wellness where the customer’s emphasis is on quality. Additionally, as a company, we have a lot of the focus on health and wellness in our Health and Nutrition business unit where we are working on both within the dietary supplements and infant nutrition space and also in the human microbiome space, on how a good bacteria impacts human health, he added.

The LGG strain is the world’s best documented probiotic strain and has been used in food and dietary supplements since 1990. Chr. Hansen fully acquired LGG from Valio in 2016, to further strengthen its microbial platform.

Additionally, earlier this month they reported that their Food Cultures and Enzymes unit helped bolster their solid organic overall revenue growth of nine percent.

Food allergies
Approximately 220-250 million people globally suffer from food allergies, an increase of 350 percent over the past 20 years. Furthermore, peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, and one of the most common causes of death from food allergy. More than 3 million Americans suffer from peanut allergy3 resulting in a global peanut allergy therapeutics market estimated to reach more than US$10 billion by 2052.

In other allergen news, NutritionInsight has reported on intensifying calls for sesame inclusion in US allergen labeling rules.

By Laxmi Haigh 

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