Let's talk about lab water
Let's talk about lab water
Probiotics are live ‘friendly’ bacteria promoted as having various health benefits. They are thought to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut – and could help with a variety of digestive issues, including constipation and bloating. One of the most popular and well-studied bacterial strains is Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), which is thought to have many digestive and immune health benefits.
While probiotic bacteria occur naturally in fermented foods and cultured milk, it is also possible to take formulated supplements. Any potential health benefits of taking probiotic supplements rely on enough live bacteria reaching the small intestine. But unfortunately, a large proportion of the encapsulated bacteria do not survive the manufacturing process or the harsh environment of the upper gastrointestinal tract, limiting their effectiveness.
3D bioprinting using biomaterials combined with living cells is a widely used approach that is applied in various research areas - such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. While there have been some reports of 3D bioprinting of bacterial cells, using this cutting-edge technology to preserve the health-promoting properties of bacteria in probiotics formulations has never been investigated.
In a new study, published in Food Hydrocolloids for Health, a team of scientists investigate applying a state-of-the-art microextrusion technique for encapsulating probiotic bacteria using 3D bioprinting.1
The researchers successfully printed encapsulated LGG bacteria using a mixture of gelatin gel, sodium alginate and LGG as a bio-ink. The production of the encapsulated bacteria was a quick and easy process – it was possible to print 120 probiotic capsules, each containing a hundred million (108) CFU/ml, within 30 minutes.
Using a variety of microscopy techniques, the team showed that the encapsulated bacteria were evenly distributed throughout the alginate-gelatin hydrogel. They then demonstrated the bacteria in the capsules remained viable and alive for seven days at 4oC – and also survived exposure to digestive fluids in an in vitro model mimicking the gastrointestinal environment.
The team used ultrapure water generated from an ELGA PURELAB® laboratory water purification system to prepare all media used in these experiments – minimising the risk of introducing contaminants that may affect the results.
In this study, the researchers used a 3D bioprinter and sodium alginate-gelatin as a bio-ink to devise a novel technique for encapsulating probiotic bacteria. Using this approach, it was possible to quickly and easily prepare LGG capsules containing abundant and evenly distributed microorganisms. The encapsulated bacteria were viable and could withstand the harsh environment of the upper digestive tract recreated in an in vitro system.
This is the first report of preparing capsules with a probiotic bacterium using a 3D bioprinter. This innovative technique opens the possibility to quickly and simply create encapsulated probiotic bacteria for their specific delivery in the gut, which could become a revolutionary method for industrial applications.
ELGA LabWater has been a trusted name in pure and ultrapure water since 1937. We believe in giving you choices in how you use our water purification solutions, supported by excellent service and support.
Dr Alison Halliday
After completing an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry & Genetics at Sheffield University, Alison was awarded a PhD in Human Molecular Genetics at the University of Newcastle. She carried out five years as a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCL, investigating the genes involved in childhood obesity syndrome. Moving into science communications, she spent ten years at Cancer Research UK engaging the public about the charity’s work. She now specialises in writing about research across the life sciences, medicine and health.