A newly developed probiotic has proven more effective than existing probiotics and has the added advantage of producing antimicrobial peptides active against pathogens that are resistant to many of the  traditionally used antibiotics, said Prof Leon Dicks of the Department of Microbiology at Stellenbosch University (SU) on Thursday (11 October). He was the speaker at the sixth Stellenbosch Forum lecture of 2012.

Dicks and his research team developed a new probiotic Entiro™ that has the potential to fight pathogens which cause certain infections and gastro-intestinal disorders. Small antimicrobial peptides in the probiotic protect the body against bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. Some strains of S. aureus are resistant to methicillin and penicillin.

“Our results have clearly shown that the antimicrobial properties of some of these peptides outweigh a number of classically used antibiotics. This is a unique probiotic that sits in your gut and pumps out antimicrobial peptides.”

“It protects the entire gut, the smaller as well as the larger intestines.”  Dicks said Entiro™ kills damage-causing pathogens by grabbing and holding them in one place.

The new probiotic competes with pathogens and for adhesion sites on mucus layers in the gut, he added.  “It stimulates and boosts the immune system, and also helps to keep the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut.” An imbalance between good and bad bacteria can cause diarrhoea, constipation and a weakened immune system.

Dicks advised people to take probiotics daily and not only when they are on antibiotics.  He noted that the ideal probiotic has to have living cells that can adhere to the entire gut and can stay there for a while. They also need to be stable.

Dicks said Entiro™ has been patented in 60 countries and will be available in pharmacies across South Africa before Christmas. It is marketed by the pharmaceutical company Cipla Medpro.

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