Probiotics research earns international prize


By Communications Staff
Thursday, June 7, 2007
London scientists Gregor Reid and Andrew Bruce have been awarded the 2007 Elie Metchnikoff Prize for Nutrition and Health for breakthrough developments in probiotic research.
The award celebrates the 100th anniversary of Nobel Laureate Metchnikoff's work linking beneficial bacteria with long life.

Reid is a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and professor of Immunology and Microbiology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario. Bruce is a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute.

The pair was recognized for discoveries in how lactic acid bacteria and probiotics enhance human nutrition, health and longevity.

The research has shown that orally administered beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria can help to maintain and restore vaginal health. An estimated one billion women worldwide suffer from vaginal and bladder infections, and studies have shown that the lactobacilli discovered by the two scientists can prevent and improve treatment of these conditions.

In addition, Reid and Bruce's studies have resulted in the application of bacteria to children and adults infected with HIV in Africa. Reid has been involved from the outset in the university-sponsored group - Western Heads East. Early results show that the probiotic yogurt they have developed helps resolve diarrhea and boosts immune status.

“By adults living two or three years longer due to these health improvements, fewer children go into orphanages," says His Excellency Ombeni Sefue, Canadian High Commissioner for the United Republic of Tanzania. “To families in Tanzania this really is a miracle."

The probiotics research has led to creation of the Canadian Research and Development Centre for Probiotics at Lawson.

“We need to regard bacteria as part of us, instead of constantly trying to wipe them all out," says Reid, who was recently appointed President of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.

“If our work helps a fraction of the women who suffer, often in silence, from vaginal and bladder infections - and if we help a fraction of the men, women and children with HIV/AIDS whose daily challenge is to stay alive and active - then we will have the ultimate reward for our research." 

The award - one of three categories of the Metchnikoff Prize - comes with a medal, plaque and cheque for 15,000 Euros (approximately $21,000). The prize was launched by the International Dairy Foundation, together with its partner organizations, Institut Pasteur and the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.

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