Pre, pro, and postbiotics: Singapore researcher formulates local strains for human, pet, agricultural use
Known as the Miiiome Technology, the technique was developed by Dr Chia Tet-Fatt, a research scientist specialising in molecular genetics and a teaching professor who previously taught at the National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Dr Chia is also the co-founder of Biomiii Pte Ltd, a company which uses the Miiiome technology to formulate health supplements. At the moment, the firm has developed the product Biomiii Probiotics – a vegan capsule product containing a blend of prebiotics, six proprietary Lactobacillus strains, and postbiotics for human health.
So far, the Miiiome Technology has been licensed to a couple of companies, such as local firm Hiap Giap Food Manufacturer for making postbiotic noodles, veterinary products by Sirius Pet Biologics, and pet treats and probiotics products by Barkery Singapore.
Companies from the agricultural sector, including Wawin Agriculture Park in Papau New Guinea and Singapore firm Seatobag Pte Ltd (Fish) are also using the technology.
Postbiotics: Dead but useful
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Dr Chia said the Miiiome Technology was built based on his experience researching on the microbiome, as well as the pre-, pro-, and postbiotics in the past 30 years.
Eight years ago, he left the academia to focus on this area.
Prebiotics are ‘food’ for probiotics – which are live, beneficial bacteria. Postbiotics, on the other hand, are ‘dead’ bacteria as well as metabolites produced by the bacteria when they are still alive.
There has been a boom in probiotics research and new product launches in the recent years, but postbiotics are rapidly gaining attention as well.
“Especially in the past 10 years, the probiotics field has developed very rapidly. New scientific as well as medical information that came out in the past 10 years tells us that the field can be sub-divided.
“If I were to talk about the definition of probiotics, we know that it refers to the number of live beneficial microbes. This is why probiotics is always measured by the number of colony-forming units, the CFU, which is the number of bacteria that could form colonies.
“The bacteria that doesn’t form colonies is therefore not counted. However, research in the past 10 years shows that a lot of beneficial effects also come from the non-colony forming units, meaning the non-live components.
“I see a lot of potential in this area and so eight years ago, I left the academia from just purely doing research to formulating products,” he said.
For the human health supplement, the firm has labelled it as a probiotic in the product name, although it also contains prebiotics and postbiotics.
Dr Chia explained that this was because across consumers and regulatory bodies, there was still a lack of understanding towards postbiotics, which was why the firm decided to only use the word probiotics on the product name instead.
“For Biomiii, we are very proud to say that we have the three components, meaning the pre-, pro-, and postbiotics.
“But as you can see, in our product, we only call it probiotics, because the government agencies are still not very clear about postbiotics as it is a rather new term.”
Biomiii probiotics was officially launched in January this year and is now available on e-commerce site Shopee.
The probiotic strains used in Biomiii as well as the Miiiome Technology are all locally derived from Singapore, which Dr Chia said would be more effective for the local population.
“The local strains are more effective than the foreign ones due to diet differences. In the West, the diet is high in dairy but over here, our diet is high in soy-based ingredients.”
He added that the strains were isolated from the environment, including the air, water, soil, plants, and animals.
In the case of Biomiii, six proprietary probiotic strains are used, they are L. rhamnosus, L. gasseri, L. paracasei, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, and L. acidophilus.
The strains were chosen based on two key criteria, namely their ability to multiply and form colonies and their ability in providing holistic health benefits.
“We choose Lactobacillus also because they are found in the entire adult human gut and they are also listed as GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe),” Dr Chia explained.
As for the postbiotics used in Biomiii, it consists of short-chain fatty acids from the acetate, propionate, and butyrate groups. Dr Chia highlighted that these were not added artificially into the product but were produced by the Lactobacillus itself.
“We culture the Lactobacillus and make sure they produce the short-chain fatty acids that we want. The Lactobacillus die after producing the short-chain fatty acids and we add them, which we call the concentrated postbiotics, into the formula. I would say that this is the most important component of the Biomiii formula.
“And when you have all three, the pre-, pro-, and postbiotics, the product becomes very potent.”
As for the health benefits, the formula first and foremost is aimed at correcting gut dysbiosis.
“First and foremost, it is important to straighten the gut. The gut has to be in a good shape, because if the gut is in dysbiosis, that’s where the health problems would come.”
He explained that the formula was also designed to reduce anxiety and inflammation.
So far, the formula has not yet gone through human clinical trials but was formulated based on literature review and animal studies.
The supplement is manufactured locally in Singapore at a factory owned by the firm in Ang Mo Kio, north of the city-state.
Cutting across human health, pet health, and the agricultural sector, the firm has been approaching its commercial sales mainly through word-of-mouth but is now planning to accelerate its retail plans.
“When consumers see first-hand the effects of the products on their pets, they will know that gut health is a real thing.
“They are better educated through their own experiences and that’s one of the ways we would like to use to educate consumers the importance of gut health,” said Chia Pui Yoong, director at Biomiii, who added that pet owners were also more likely to try the human supplements after seeing the benefits on their pets.
Aside from local sales, the product is also exported to Indonesia.
Asked the upcoming new product development plans, Dr Chia said that the focus was to explore the categories in which Miiiome Technology could be applied to.
“This is only the beginning for us…We are going on a challenge to link this whole thing into our ecosystem.”
He pointed out that it was important to view the ecosystem as a whole, instead of addressing each part of the ecosystem individually.
“The 20th century was a time when we try to do things better but individually.
“But in the 21st century, everything is linked up. Everything must work together as an ecosystem, which is how the world was made.”