Next-generation probiotics: the spectrum from probiotics to live biotherapeutics

Nat Microbiol. 2017 Apr 25;2:17057. doi: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2017.57.


The leading probiotics currently available to consumers are generally drawn from a narrow range of organisms. Knowledge of the gut microbiota and its constituent actors is changing this paradigm, particularly given the phylogenetic range and relatively unknown characteristics of the organisms under investigation as novel therapeutics. For this reason, and because their development is likely to be more amenable to a pharmaceutical than a food delivery route, these organisms are often operationally referred to as next-generation probiotics, a concept that overlaps with the emerging concept of live biotherapeutic products. The latter is a class of organisms developed exclusively for pharmaceutical application. In this Perspective, we discuss what lessons have been learned from working with traditional probiotics, explore the kinds of organisms that are likely to be used as novel microbial therapeutics, discuss the regulatory framework required, and propose how scientists may meet this challenge.

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium
  • Biological Therapy / methods
  • Biological Therapy / trends
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Industry / trends
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus
  • Phylogeny
  • Probiotics* / therapeutic use