UK's OptiBiotix and Taiwan's Bened Biomedical unite for ‘psychobiotic’ expansion

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

The deal follow extensive research into the link between the brain and the gut microbiome. ©iStock
The deal follow extensive research into the link between the brain and the gut microbiome. ©iStock

Related tags Psychology Probiotic

UK firm OptiBiotix has signed a deal with Taiwan-based probiotic research company Bened Biomedical, marking the former’s foray into the gut-brain axis area of microbiome research.

The agreement will allow OptiBiotix to commercialise Bened’s anti-anxiety and anti-depression PS128 probiotic strain in Europe and the US, and also permit Bened to commercialise OptiBiotix’s cholesterol-lowering LPLDL probiotic strain in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South East Asia.

This comes after recent extensive research into the link between the brain and the gut microbiome — also called the gut-brain axis — with studies suggesting that the gut microbiome can affect neural development, brain biochemistry and behaviour.

‘Psychobiotics’ gaining traction

This has resulted in the use of ‘psychobiotics’, probiotics consisting of specific bacteria introduced into the gut microbiome to target cognitive function.

Bened’s PS128 probiotic strain is one example, and preclinical results have shown its potential to alleviate anxiety and depression.

It is also said to lower inflammatory cytokine levels, increase anti-inflammatory cytokine levels, and raise dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex.

OptiBiotix CEO Stephen O'Hara said, “The recent advances in psychobiotics, which have the potential to address a range of mental and emotional health issues such as anxiety, depression, autism and Parkinson's, are very exciting.

“We strongly believe Bened's scientific and commercial capabilities in psychobiotics creates potential for OptiBiotix to expand into a new area in the microbiome field.”

Commercial opportunities

Bened CEO Frankie Cheng believes OptiBiotix’s products “can be commercialised successfully through our distribution capability”​.

“We see mutual benefit in OptiBiotix's commercial advances in Europe and (the) US as a way to bring our PS128 product to a wider audience.”

The agreement between the two companies gives them a year to explore opportunities presented by their respective probiotic strains.

This is the latest in a string of high-profile deals struck by OptiBiotix this year, the most recent being a manufacturing deal​ with Tata Chemicals in India.

Bened, on the other hand, is developing microbiome modulating products for allergic, immunological, metabolic, neuropsychological, and ageing-related disorders. Since its inception in 2015, its flagship psychobiotic PS128 products (which are said to help improve mental and emotional health) have been sold in over 10 countries, generating revenues in excess of US$2m.

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