Toward A New Generation Of Therapeutics
Published 2006 · Medicine, Biology
Scientific evidence in the prevention and treatment of various disorders is accumulating regarding probiotics. The health benefits supported by adequate clinical data include increased resistance to infectious disease, decreased duration of diarrhea, management of inflammatory bowel disease, reduction of serum cholesterol, prevention of allergy, modulation of cytokine gene expression, and suppression of carcinogen production. Recent ventures in metabolic engineering and heterologous protein expression have enhanced the enzymatic and immunomodulatory effects of probiotics and, with time, may allow more active intervention among critical care patients. In addition, a number of approaches are currently being explored, including the physical and chemical protection of cells, to increase probiotic viability and its health benefits. Traditional immobilization of probiotics in gel matrices, most notably calcium alginate and κ-carrageenan, has frequently been employed, with noted improvements in viability during freezing and storage. Conflicting reports exist, however, on the protection offered by immobilization from harsh physiologic environments. An alternative approach, microencapsulation in “artificial cells,” builds on immobilization technologies by combining enhanced mechanical stability of the capsule membrane with improved mass transport, increased cell loading, and greater control of parameters. This review summarizes the current clinical status of probiotics, examines the promises and challenges of current immobilization technologies, and presents the concept of artificial cells for effective delivery of therapeutic bacterial cells.