The different levels of knowledge described in a translational pipeline (the connection of molecular mechanisms with pre-clinical physiological and human health effects) are not complete for many probiotics. At present, we are not in a position to fully understand the mechanistic basis of many well established probiotic health benefits which, in turn, limits our ability to use mechanisms to predict which probiotics are likely to be effective in any given population. Here we suggest that this concept of a translation pipeline connecting mechanistic insights to probiotic efficacy can support the selection and production of improved probiotic products. Such a conceptual pipeline would also provide a framework for the design of clinical trials to convincingly demonstrate the benefit of probiotics to human health in well-defined subpopulations.
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