A strain of probiotic bacteria that may help treat ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori has been identified by Spanish scientists, according to an article published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Helicobacter pylori, often referred to a H. pylori causes ulcers in the stomach and gastritis (stomach inflammation). The majority of gastric and duodenal ulcers globally are caused by this bacterium.

The authors wrote:

“Currently, antibiotic-based treatment for H. pylori infection is neither sufficient nor satisfactory, with the most successful treatments reaching 75 to 90% eradication rates. The use of probiotics is a potentially promising tool to prevent H. pylori.”

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and WHO (World Health Organization), probiotics are live organisms which when consumed in sufficient quantities benefit the host.

The authors add that regular consumption of probiotics has been compellingly shown to significantly reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea and many other disorders.

Bifidobacterium, a type of probiotic, is frequently used in fermented dairy products as well as food supplements. It is one of the favorite genera in studies that look at the prevention of gastrointestinal infections.

Some in vitro studies have demonstrated how Bifidobacterium acts against H. pylori.

The scientists gathered samples of feces from breast-fed infants and tested various strains of bifidobacteria against H. pylori. Bifidobacterium bifidum CECT 7366, one of the strains, was found to have an inhibition level of almost 95% in certain conditions in an in vitro experiment – its activity was tested against infection in mice.

Within three weeks, the mice that were treated with the potentially probiotic strain were found to have considerably fewer ulcers than the mice in the control group.

Further testing indicates that the probiotic treatment partially reduced damage to gastric tissue the H. pylori infection had caused.

The scientists stressed that in no time did the consumption of the bacteria cause any deaths or disease in the healthy and immunocompromised animals.

They wrote:

“The results presented here confer to strain B. bifidum CECT 7366 the status of a probiotic bacterium with functional activity against H. pylori. Human clinical trials must be performed before commercialization of this strain can be approved.”

“Novel Probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum CECT 7366 Strain Active against the Pathogenic Bacterium Helicobacter pylori”
Chenoll, B. Casinos, E. Bataller, P. Astals, J. Echevarría, J. R. Iglesias, P. Balbarie, D. Ramón,1 and S. Genovés
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
February 2011, p. 1335-1343, Vol. 77, No. 4 doi:10.1128/AEM.01820-10

Written by Christian Nordqvist