Probiotics for building muscle mass: Synbio Tech targets the US market with ‘world’s first’ sports product

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Synbio Tech, a Taiwanese firm, has developed a probiotic product meant for muscle building. © Pixabay
Synbio Tech, a Taiwanese firm, has developed a probiotic product meant for muscle building. © Pixabay

Related tags Probiotics Sports nutrition muscle building

Taiwanese probiotics firm Synbio Tech is aiming for a strong entry into the US sports nutrition market with a probiotic strain capable of building muscle mass.

The strain Lactobacillus plantarum ​TWK10 (L. plantarum ​TWK10) is isolated from the Taiwan pickled vegetables and is able to enhance muscle building and exercise endurance.

The firm is already in talks with major brand companies and product distributors for business partnerships. 

An end product containing TWK10 is likely to enter the market next year, with the US as a prime target, NutraIngredients-Asia​ understands from Lisa Chen, assistant marketing manager at the firm.

“Sports nutrition is biggest in the US market and thus, the US is of course our key target. We are also interested in China, Taiwan, and Japan, which is going to host the Tokyo Olympics 2020,”​ Chen said.

The firm also claims that TWK10 is the world’s first probiotics for building muscle mass.

“TWK10 is the world’s first probiotics that is able to build muscle mass. Currently, most of the other probiotics that are in the market are for boosting the body immunity or promoting gut health.”

TWK10 also increases aerobic endurance performance and post-exercise blood glucose concentration, a human clinical trial has shown.

Isolation of the strain started in 2009, led by a professor from the National Taiwan Sports University.

Subsequently, a mice study and two human clinical trials have taken place. The second human clinical trial is still ongoing and is likely to end by this year.

Sport nutrition – the future of probiotics?

Synbio Tech decided to produce a probiotic for enhancing sports performance as it believes in the gut-muscle axis and that this will be “the trend for the (future) probiotics industry,”​ Chen said.  ​ 

“We find that the sports nutrition market is growing and we think that sports probiotics will be the trend of the (future) probiotics industry.” 

The firm is currently in the process of applying a patent for TWK10.

Longer time-to-exhaustion

Synbio Tech has conducted two human clinical trials to study the effectiveness of TWK10.

Prior to the human clinical trials, a mice test​ was conducted.

The firm has recently completed the first stage of its second human trial and has found that the TWK10 is able to extend the time-to-exhaustion during physical exercise.

For the trial, 27 males and 27 females were recruited and were divided into three groups.

They were the placebo group, the group which took 1X amount of TWK10, and the group which took 3X amount of TWK10.

The latest results given to NutraIngredients-Asia ​showed that TWK10 is able to extend the time-to-exhaustion during physical exercise.

For instance, the time-to-exhaustion was more than 15mins for the 3X TWK10 group, nearly 15mins for the 1X TWK 10 group and slightly more than 10mins for the placebo group.

On the other hand, the first human clinical trial, which lasted for six weeks, showed that the TWK10’s time-to-exhaustion was 58% longer than that of the placebo group.

16 males between the ages of 20 to 40 years old were recruited into the trial. None of them has received professional athletic training.

The subjects were divided into the placebo group and the group which consumed TWK10.

The TWK10 group received six weeks of TWK10 supplementation in the form of capsules, in which each capsule contains 1 × 1011​ of CFU L. plantarum ​TWK10, maltodextrin, deproteinized permeate whey powder, lactose, and microcrystalline cellulose.

The placebo group consumed capsules containing the same ingredients except for the L. plantarum ​TWK10.

The two groups consumed the respective capsules once per day after a meal for six weeks.

During an exercise test, the TWK10 group’s time-to-exhaustion was 58% longer than that of the placebo group.

Specifically, the TWK10 spent 21.53 mins (± 204 sec) to reach exhaustion, while the placebo group was exhausted only after 13.62 mins (± 79 secs) of exercise.

The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) for the TWK10 group was also slightly lower than the placebo group, with the TWK10 group registering a RPE of 16 (±1), while that of the placebo group is higher at 18 (±0).

“The results may be explained by the anti-inflammation effects induced by L. plantarum TWK10, leading to an improvement in skeletal muscle atrophy markers,” ​researchers said.

“Taken together, our results suggest that TWK10 has the potential to be an aerobic exercise supplement for physiological adaptation or an ergogenic supplement with health benefits for amateur runners.”

Energy harvesting

TWK10 has also showed to contain energy harvesting properties.

As seen in the first trial, the TWK10 group’s blood glucose concentration was 15.1% higher than the placebo group after exercise.

For instance, the blood glucose concentrations for the placebo and TWK10 groups during pre-exercise were 84mg.dl-1​(±1) and 87mg.dl-1​(±2).

This suggests that TWK10 plays a role in energy harvest.

The glucose level was significantly elevated, possibly for energy utilization benefit,​the researchers said.

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