Future Challenges

Some of the claimed beneficial effects of probiotics are backed by good clinical studies. However, other possible effects call for further investigation in new, well-planned, long-term human clinical studies prior to any firm conclusions being made. Protocols for human studies need to be developed for probiotics. In some cases, even postmarketing surveillance studies on intakes and long-term effects are useful; such studies have in fact already been used for the safety assessment of current probiotics.

The assessment of potential probiotic strains must be based on a valid scientific hypothesis with realistic studies supporting it. In this respect, knowledge of mechanisms of action is a key factor for hypothesis formulation and for the selection of bio-markers appropriate to the specific state of health and well-being or reduction of risk of disease. It is thus important to improve our knowledge of the mechanisms involved and take into account the fact that probiotic mechanisms of action are multi-factorial and that each probiotic may have specific functions affecting the host.

It is also of key interest to increase our knowledge of intestinal microflora composition and to understand its role in health and disease, identifying those microorganisms related to the health status of the host, in order to select probiotic strains able to modulate the intestinal microflora in a beneficial manner.

Knowledge accrued regarding the intestinal microflora, nutrition, immunity, mechanisms of action and specific diseases should be carefully combined with genomic data to allow the development of a second generation of probiotics; strains for both site-and disease-specific action.

See also: Breast Feeding. Cancer: Epidemiology of Gastrointestinal Cancers Other Than Colorectal Cancers. Cholesterol: Sources, Absorption, Function and Metabolism. Colon: Disorders. Diarrheal Diseases. Food Allergies: Etiology; Diagnosis and Management. Lactose Intolerance. Microbiota of the Intestine: Prebiotics.

Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Peanuts can leave you breathless. Cat dander can lead to itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. And most of us have suffered through those seasonal allergies with horrible pollen counts. Learn more...

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