The team at Thaena is passionate about microbiomes. The human microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live on and in the human body. These microorganisms, which include bacteria, fungi, and viruses, play a crucial role in maintaining the health of their human host, many with profound impacts on a wide range of bodily functions.
The microbiome is essential to health for several reasons, its most well-established roles are energy and nutrient production, and immune function. The microorganisms that make up the microbiome help to break down food and extract nutrients that would otherwise be unavailable, allowing the body to get the nutrition it needs to function correctly. In addition, the microbiome supports the immune system by protecting the body from harmful pathogens, promoting proper immune function, and even influencing immune development. We were interested in how the microbiome actually does this.
How Do Bacteria Impact Health?
In 2017 an open-label pilot study showed that a sterile filtrate of fecal material was effective at treating C. diff. The lack of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa in the treatment implied that another mechanism beyond colonization of the recipient's microbiome by the donor's transplanted microbiome might play a role. We decided to focus on how the microorganisms communicate within the human microbiome. One of the main ways the microorganisms in the microbiome communicate is by releasing small molecular signals that can be either chemical messengers or simple metabolic byproducts. These molecules can be roughly referred to as postbiotics.
These postbiotic molecules can include a wide range of substances, including short-chain fatty acids, peptides, modified amino acids, lipid membrane components, and more. We’ve identified over 800 postbiotic molecules in our ecosystem product, ThaenaBiotic®. Many postbiotics play an important role in human health and may have additional beneficial effects on the body. For example, some research has suggested that some postbiotic molecules have anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, blood glucose control, and appetite-regulatory effects. In addition, postbiotics may also be involved in developing and maintaining the gut microbiome. Some research has suggested that postbiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and may also play a role in shaping the microbiome's composition.
Postbiotics as Supplements
While the term postbiotic is relatively new, a growing number of companies are offering these microbial metabolites (often bacterial) as dietary supplements.One of the first to come to market was a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate is one of several important short-chain fatty acids produced by the fermentation of dietary fiber by bacteria in the gut microbiome. Butyrate has many established and theorized health benefits. One of the main ways that butyrate impacts health is by supporting gut microbiome health. Butyrate is an important energy source for several known beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome. By ensuring the beneficial bacteria have a plentiful amount of energy to grow, they, in turn, help maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut, which is essential for overall health. In addition, butyrate has also been shown to have local anti-inflammatory effects in the gut and may even help reduce inflammation in other body areas.
If that’s what one single postbiotic could do, imagine the impacts an ecosystem of these small communication molecules could impart. That’s what we did when we created ThaenaBiotic®, we dreamed big.