The beneficial effects of probiotics in preventing and/or treating several intestinal diseases, including ulcerative colitis is touted widely.
Although there have been few, if any, good clinical studies evaluating the clinical efficacy of probiotics, preclinical data suggest that probiotics and approaches utilizing probiotic-derived products could be effective therapies for acute and chronic gastrointestinal disorders. In this context, a team of researchers, led by Fang Yan, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, have now identified a new probiotic bacteria-derived soluble protein that can protect intestinal cells from inflammation and injury and unraveled its mechanism of action. Importantly, specific delivery of the protein (p40) to the colon provided therapeutic and prophylactic protection in several mouse models of colitis. The authors suggest that their data provide rationale for the development of probiotic-derived proteins as reagents for preventing and/or treating ulcerative intestinal inflammatory disorders.
In an accompanying commentary, Fayez Ghishan and Pawel Kiela, at the University of Arizona, Tucson, concur with this position, although they caution that further work in humans is needed.