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New Study Shows Probiotic Strain Effective in Boosting Immune Response to Flu Virus

Bacillus coagulans boosts a key immune marker in healthy people

CLEVELAND, May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study in the current issue of Postgraduate Medicine suggests that a specific strain of probiotics, Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, PTA-6086, increases the body's immune response to the flu virus(1). Study data showed significant increases in T-cell production of TNF-alpha, a key immune marker, versus control upon exposure to influenza A in healthy adults who consumed a daily capsule of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, PTA-6086 for 30 days. While many health professionals believe that probiotics can help people who have specific health conditions, there has been controversy surrounding the benefits of probiotics in healthy people. The new study supports the idea that probiotics benefit the healthy and is encouraging given the threats in recent years of flu pandemics, many of which are variants of influenza A.

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The study measured the changes in blood TNF-alpha levels upon exposure to influenza A in 10 healthy adults prior to and following a 30 day regimen of Sustenex, a dietary supplement containing the specific Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, PTA-6086 probiotic strain. Results showed a 1709% increase in TNF-alpha levels upon viral challenge after subjects took Sustenex for a period of 30 days. An initial, increased production of TNF-alpha in response to viral exposure indicates a heightened immunological effect to protect against infection. Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, PTA-6086 is marketed under the trade name GanedenBC30 in various dietary supplements, medical foods, and fortified packaged foods.

Swine flu, a variant of influenza A, has generated much attention to the flu due to the current threat of a pandemic, but the flu has significant health and economic consequences every year, especially among young children, the elderly, and people with underlying or chronic conditions. Annually, 5 to 20 percent of people in the U.S. contract the flu, more than 200,000 are hospitalized with flu-related complications, and approximately 51,000 die from all causes related to the flu(2). The study did not evaluate the immune response to the swine flu.

"These results demonstrate the ability of GanedenBC30 to boost the immune system of healthy adults against viruses that cause some of the most common human illnesses," said Mira Baron, M.D., author of the study. "The study helps support the long-suspected belief about the beneficial effects of GanedenBC30 on the immune system and adds to the emerging body of evidence that probiotics can benefit healthy people as well as those with specific health issues."

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms similar to the "friendly" bacteria found naturally in the body's digestive system and have best been known for their ability to help reduce symptoms of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Researchers have long postulated the role probiotics play in boosting immune function through promoting a healthy bacterial ecosystem in the digestive tract, which comprises approximately 70 percent of the body's immune system, a hypothesis supported by the current study.

Dr. Gary Huffnagle, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, who has reviewed the study's findings, said, "Today, people take medicine to achieve symptomatic relief of colds and flu once they are already suffering. However, this research adds to the growing body of scientific support that shows the promise of probiotics, such as Sustenex, in boosting the immune function of healthy adults to defend against infection and lessen the symptoms of disease." When asked if people should take Sustenex in light of the current flu concerns, Huffnagle, who wrote The Probiotics Revolution, a book on probiotics for the general audience, said, "Sustenex is an effective probiotic. I think it is a wise move to include the consumption of probiotics, such as Sustenex, along with good diet, frequent hand washing and other recommendations by the CDC in the battle against flu. While more research is needed to demonstrate whether this translates into reduced hospitalization and/or deaths, it's a healthy, low-cost, proactive thing that people can do that has no risks associated with it."

The study points out that different strains of probiotics have different inherent properties, suggesting that the unique ability of GanedenBC30 to survive common conditions that can potentially kill other probiotics before they can have a beneficial effect, such as manufacturing conditions, extreme temperatures, and the harsh gastric environment, may contribute to its ability to support the immune system. Dr. Ken Alibek, M.D., Ph.D., Sc.D., an infectious disease, microbiology, and immunology expert who has studied Bacillus coagulans extensively, believes that the strain may be the most ideal in existence, noting that "no other probiotic has the ability like that of Bacillus coagulans to survive the challenges probiotics face in reaching the intestinal tract where they can do good" and added that "once there, no other strain is as prolific in producing the beneficial by-products responsible for many of the benefits of probiotics."

"This study adds to the three other human, animal, and laboratory studies conducted on GanedenBC30 that show a positive impact on the immune system, and it's another step forward in our understanding of probiotics and the many health benefits they can deliver," said Andrew Lefkowitz, CEO of Ganeden Biotech, which helped fund the study through a research grant and has completed several clinical trials using GanedenBC30, including trials in immunity, IBS, intestinal gas, Crohn's disease, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. "We will continue to fund research investigating the benefits of GanedenBC30 and its ability to improve the quality of life and perhaps provide millions of people with a way to boost the immune system in the face of global health concerns such as flu pandemics."

About Ganeden Biotech

Founded in 1996, Ganeden Biotech Inc. is a private company based in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the largest seller of over-the-counter probiotics in the U.S. through its Sustenex and Digestive Advantage brands. It also licenses its patented probiotic bacteria, GanedenBC30, for use in commercial food and beverage applications as well as in medical foods and dietary supplements. GanedenBC30 was found to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by an independent expert panel assembled to assess its safety in use as a food ingredient. Sustenex and Digestive Advantage are available online and through over 40,000 retailers nationwide including Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and Target. For more information, visit,, or

(1) Original Research: A Patented Strain of Bacillus coagulans Increased Immune Response to Viral Challenge, published in Postgraduate Medicine, Volume 121, Issue 2, March 2009. Full text article available for free access at

(2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed April 30, 2009.

SOURCE Ganeden Biotech
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