2017 ISAPP Annual Meeting Highlights

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics held its annual meeting in Chicago at the end of June. This meeting featured the latest science in the probiotic and prebiotic fields, consistent with ISAPP’s mission to advance the science of probiotics and prebiotics.  For additional details, the meeting report is available online.

One highlight from this meeting was the presentation of ISAPP’s updated prebiotic definition.  Prof. Glenn Gibson, lead author on the latest consensus statement by ISAPP, presented highlights on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Prof. Gibson, along with Prof. Marcel Roberfroid, coined the term ‘prebiotic’ in 1995 (Gibson and Roberfroid 1995). Since that time, advances in prebiotic research and human microbiome science led to the need to modernize the prebiotic definition. The panel agreed on the following definition of prebiotic: a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.  This definition expanded the scope of prebiotics, to include oral and non-oral administration, health effects that are not limited to the gut, and the possibility to include substances beyond oligosaccharides. Prebiotics must also have a demonstrated health benefit. Unlike the definition of probiotic, the prebiotic definition stipulates a mechanism of action. Prebiotics must be selectively utilized by host microbes. Therefore, in order for a substance to meet the prebiotic definition, a study on the target host must both document a change in heath markers or symptoms as well as a specific influence on the microbial population.

This consensus paper on prebiotics is published, open access, in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology Hepatology, and is already one of the most widely read papers for this journal.

Other highlights from lectures:

  • Prof. Todd Klaenhammer presented the keynote address. It was an honor to have Dr. Klaenhammer give his final talk before retiring at the ISAPP meeting! His talk focused on the high level, basic science conducted over the past 2 decades that has revealed insights into probiotic mechanisms of action. Such research is critical to well-designed, targeted clinical evaluations of probiotics to understand not only what benefits they confer, but how they function.
  • Prof. Jens Walter presented his novel findings that Bifidobacterium longum AH1206 persists in about a third of study subjects. Typically, probiotics do not permanently colonize. But Prof. Walter’s findings led to the conclusion that a probiotic may become a stable member of a gut microbiota if an open niche is available. This research has important implications for developing personalized probiotic interventions: strain AH1206 may be best suited to subjects harboring low levels of B. longum.
  • Prof. Dan Merenstein spoke on “Evidence for clinical interventions: how do probiotics measure up?” His take home message was that clinical data are compelling for some probiotic interventions, with number needed to treat equivalent to some drug interventions. Probiotic costs and adverse events are low, so barriers to use are low, but patients and clinicians must have realistic expectations about magnitudes of effects.
  • Prof. Ted Dinan provided an overview of evidence for probiotic interventions on brain function. He summarized the human studies conducted to date, noting that studies of some strains with promising pre-clinical data did not translate into human benefits. This may be due to lack of effect, but more needs to be known about proper dosing, duration of treatment and target population in order to design optimal human studies. He remains optimistic, however, that certain probiotics have potential to manage stress-related conditions and even improve cognition.
  • Dr. Greg Leyer reported on a meeting held May 16, 2017 between ISAPP and the FDA, discussing how to facilitate evidence-based probiotic research. CBER was open to exploring this evidence further and suggested that FDA convene a workshop with representatives from industry, academia, healthcare practitioners, and other federal agencies (NIH, CDC, others?), with the goal of establishing a baseline of current knowledge in the field and build consensus on a path forward.

The final day of every ISAPP meeting comprises breakout discussions on hot topics for the field. The discussion groups and chairs of these discussion groups for the 2017 meeting were:

  • How do we fully leverage the well-established and documented benefits of probiotics and prebiotics for the benefit of patients and the public? Dan Merenstein and Chris Cifelli
  • Synbiotics –what are the advantages? Glenn Gibson and Bob Hutkins
  • Probiotic molecular mechanisms of action: where are we today? Sarah Lebeer
  • Identifying biomarkers linking the composition and function of the microbiome to health status. Karen Scott
  • Diet-based disruptions of the microbiome: are they important and could probiotics and prebiotics modulate? Eamonn Quigley and Jens Walter
  • New paradigms for translating probiotic and microbiome science into health-promoting products. Gregor Reid

These groups often lead to timely, peer-reviewed publications either summarizing outcomes or offering perspective on challenges to the field. Stay tuned!

This 2017 ISAPP meeting was a by-invitation meeting. Typically, ISAPP strives to keep its annual meetings small and targeted, to assure the highest level scientific discussions and networking possibilities. Only invited content experts and industry scientists from ISAPP member companies are present at the meeting. However, in 2018, ISAPP will break new ground. For the first time, it will be hosting its meeting in Asia. The 2018 ISAPP meeting will be held June 5-6 in Singapore. Registration is now open. See here for program information, speakers and registration.

See report on 2017 ISAPP Annual Meeting from Gut Microbiota for Health