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Bacteria discovered in Cork improves ability to cope with stress

The bacteria is being developed for a microbacterial and vitamin supplement.

Image: Shutterstock/anyaivanova

A STRAIN OF bacteria first discovered by researchers at University College Cork appears to improve people’s ability to cope with stress.

The snappily named B. longum 1714 was discovered at UCC’s APC Microbiome Institute. It’s from the family of bacteria that are given to a baby from its mother at birth.

Now a major international study has shown that it helps people manage stress by changing how the brain processes stress stimuli.

The study was carried out by the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital of Tübingenin in Germany. 

As part of the four-week trial 40 participants played the notoriously stressful Cyberball game which saw them virtually tossing balls with two other virtual players.

Each of the participants was given a dose of the bacteria or a placebo each day. They experienced heightened stress during the games but those who were given the probiotic were found to be able to manage their stress better.

Over the course of the trial period the bacteria was found to improve how their brain deals with stressful events and moderate brain processes that are linked to negative emotions.

The study supports what research on animals has shown for a long time.

The researchers said they were sceptical about the claims made about probiotics and the gut-brain axis but their comprehensive study provided “novel and innovative” results which provide a basis to assess the “true impact of specific bacterial strains on the brain”.

The bacteria are being developed by Alimentary Healthcare for a microbacterial and vitamin supplement.

“We are delighted with these results, which show the potential for targeted strains with a scientific basis to support claims,” the company’s CEO, Dr Barry Kiely, said.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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Ceimin Burke

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