GUWAHATI: Scientists in Assam have achieved a major breakthrough by developing a next-generation probiotic that has ushered in hope for longevity and healthy aging among the elderly.
In the early 20th century, Nobel Laureate Elie Metchnikoff had proposed that healthy bacteria found in fermented dairy products may promote healthy aging. Hundred years later, a team of scientists at the central-government funded Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST) in Guwahati, led by scientist Mojibur R Khan, and Prof. Ashis K. Mukherjee, director of the institute, in collaboration with Prof. MC Kalita of Gauhati University, and research scholars Arun Kumar and Tulsi Joishy has discovered the next generation probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus plantarum JBC5, from a dairy product that looks promising in promoting healthy aging.
The team has developed a yogurt, using this probiotic bacteria, which can be consumed to derive all these health benefits and increase life expectancy. The study, "A Potential Probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum JBC5 Improves Longevity and Healthy Aging by Modulating Antioxidative, Innate Immunity and Serotonin-Signaling Pathways in Caenorhabditis elegans", was recently published in the highly regarded peer-reviewed journal, Antioxidant, endorsing the finding.
Khan said that the bacterium demonstrated a 27.81% increase in the life span of the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans (a kind of worm), accompanied by the hallmarks of healthy aging by providing improved immunity against pathogenic infections, increased learning ability and memory, gut integrity, and oxidative stress tolerance. “In contrast, it significantly reduced the accumulation of body fat and inflammation, which will also help in reducing aging factors among humans. Around 70% genes of the worm we experimented with are similar to human beings,” he added.
Mukherjee said the probiotic promises to delay the onset of age-associated diseases such as obesity, decline in cognitive functions, and increases immunity in the elderly. A patent has been filed to claim the discovery. Mukherjee hoped that the probiotic got commercialized soon so that the laboratory-generated technology could reach people. Advances in medical science have increased life expectancy and led to the rapid growth of the aging population. The United Nations has predicted that one in every 11 people will be older than 65 by 2050. However, the researchers in IASST opined that aging is generally associated with a higher risk of age-related health issues, such as obesity, neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, autoimmune and inflammatory bowel diseases. Thus, they said it raises concerns in populated countries like India where these diseases are common.