By Lennart Cedgård MD and CEO Wasa Medicals

As being involved many years in the field of intestinal microecology, my interest in how to develop probiotics was initiated. There are some objectives that are to be looked upon if to create an "optimal performance" probiotic product.

The choice of bacterial cultures

Would it be best with just one single strain culture or a mixture of different cultures? Some advocate that a multi-strain product is positive, due to that there are different beneficial characteristics in the different cultures that will be added to each other. The performance of the different cultures could thus be synergistic, but this is not always the case as the more different strains introduced the more competition, which could inhibit the activities of the superior probiotic strains! It is also more difficult to achieve high standards of quality control in multi-strain products. Single strain probiotics may be so far a little easier to when it comes to quality analyses. As probiotic strains are transient the diversity of the innate flora would not be influenced whatever amount of strains included in the probiotic product.

Quality and stability

Freeze dried cultures are to be preferred and tablets produced by a low-compression method as ProBion with its ingenious matrix have a better sustainability compared with capsules (equals more than10-folded).

Administration and packaging

The freeze-dried powders need to be packaged in an optimal form. To administer the powder itself directly into the gastrointestinal system is not particularly cost effective. This is due to heavy loss of bacteria caused by the bactericidal effect of the bile acid and to a lesser degree of the gastric acid. Choosing acid tolerating and bile-acid-resistant cultures could reduce these losses. Another way is to encapsulate the powder into capsules. The stability of the cultures is however influenced by the moisture content (5-10 %)! in these capsules. Therefore many attempts have been made during the last years to produce tablets. This is however quite difficult due to the compression forces that the bacterial cells will experience during the formation of tablets.

In the company Wasa Medicals, where I am engaged, a new method of making tablets with viable cultures has been developed. This is a low compression method, which minimise the splint forces as compared to conventional methods. The products benefiting from this technique are now introduced to the market.


Tablets made with conventional methods will damage the cultures due to splint and compression forces. Capsules contain 10% moisture, which is detrimental to the cultures. This implies poor stability and viability. With powders administered in sachets or similar, it is difficult to conduct the dissolution and disintegration in the gastrointestinal tract and this will therefore reduce the effect of the cultures. Tablets with controlled disintegration give better delivery and research shows that customers (85%) prefer these compared to capsules.

Technology - ProBion the Scientific Choice

The ProBion Matrix method of tableting has the advantage of promoting and improving the quality and the effect of the cultures, since it involves less compression, less splint forces and reduced heat development. The cultures are protected in clusters formed during compression. This supports good viability and stability. The tablet makes it possible to control the disintegration in the gut, exposing and activating the bacteria properly in the right place and thereby achieving an optimal biological effect. The innovation involves the use of fructo-oligo/polysaccharides. These are also defined as prebiotics and work in synergy with the probiotic cultures - synbiotics!

Probiotics must be seen as the primary food supplement

ProBion is by definition probiotics + prebiotics = synbiotics, i.e. health promoting transient biocultures with influence on the gastrointestinal ecology. The probiotics work mainly through the substrate that the culture itself represents. As a complement to the probiotic cultures inulin acts as a substrate to the bifidobacteria. These, metabolic fibres, are considered prebiotics and contains fructo-oligo/polysaccharides (FOS/FPS). They promote and stimulate the activities of the bifidobacteria and thus they are called bifidogenic.

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