Person-specific Assessment of Probiotics Responsiveness (No. 1895)

Lead Researcher: Prof. Eran Segal


Dietary supplementation with commensal microorganisms, collectively termed probiotics, is a constantly growing market, estimated to exceed 69.3 billion USD by 2023. Probiotics are the third most commonly consumed dietary supplement after vitamin and mineral preparations. Claimed rationales for probiotics consumption by healthy individuals vary from alleviation of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, ‘fortification’ of the immune system and protection against infectious diseases, prevention of weight gain, mental and behavioral augmentation and promotion of wellbeing. In the US, over 60% of healthcare providers prescribed probiotics to their patients, mostly for the maintenance of ‘bowel health’, prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea or upon patient request.
Nevertheless, despite the popularity of probiotic products, their efficacy remains controversial, with only a few controlled clinical studies pointing to beneficial outcomes, while others failing to establish sustained modulation of the microbiome, or objective physiological consequences.
Several major challenges limit a comprehensive assessment of probiotics effects on the mammalian host. The first stems from significant inter-individual human microbiome variability, mediated by factors such as age, diet, antibiotic usage, consumption of food supplements, underlying medical conditions and disturbances to circadian activity. This variability may drive individualized probiotics-mediated colonization and host effects. A second limitation stems from universal reliance on stool microbiome assessment, as a surrogate marker of gastrointestinal (GI) mucosal probiotics impact on the host and its microbiome. However, multiple studies have shown that stool microbiome assessment cannot distinguish between probiotic-permissive and resistant individuals.
These results highlight the need for development of better predictive models inferring gut microbiome mucosal composition and function from fecal configurations. Additionally, the person-specific mucosal colonization resistance to probiotics requires an individualized approach for probiotic treatment rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.


?        A novel method of assessing whether a candidate subject is suitable for probiotic treatment by analyzing an individual's microbiome signature.
?        Individualized probiotic treatment.
?        A novel method for predicting the signature of a microbiome of a GI location of a subject, by analyzing either mRNA, polypeptides, carbohydrates or metabolites in a subject’s feces.

Technology's Essence

The teams of Profs. Elinav and Segal have developed a method of assessing whether a subject is suitable for probiotic treatment by analyzing specific metabolites in the subject’s feces. By comparing the gut microbiome signature of the candidate to that of a control known to be responsive to probiotic treatment the teams can assess the effectiveness of probiotic treatment. Individuals that are found suitable are treated with antibiotics and subsequently supplement with an oral probiotic. Individuals that are predicted to be resistant to oral probiotic treatment can otherwise be treated using autologous fecal transplant.