Probiotic as Add-on Treatment Seen to Aid Patients in Small Study

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by Marisa Wexler |

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PS128 probiotic

PS128, a probiotic sold by Bened Biomedical, eased symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as an add-on treatment to 25 patients in a pilot clinical study, the company announced.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed, are thought to improve overall health.

PS128 is a strain of the bacterial species Lactobacillus plantarum that, according to Bened, can modulate levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are abnormal in people with Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders. As such, PS128 is considered a psychobiotic — a probiotic with mental health effects.

“Research into the causes of Parkinson’s has shown the disease being related to what goes on in the gut, which led us to believe probiotics may be an effective intervention,” Chin-Song Lu, MD, the neurologist who led the study, said in a press release 

The 25 patients, all in Taiwan, were treated with PS128 nightly for 12 weeks (three months) while continuing to take their customary Parkinson’s treatments.

After its use ended,  patients’ scores on the overall Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS; a four-part measure of motor and non-motor symptoms) were reported to have improved by 11.3% while in on-state (when other medications are working effectively), and by 14.3% in off-state (when other medications are not effectively controlling symptoms).

Scores for akinesia — abnormally small or slow movements — improved by 16.8% in the off-state.

Treatment with PS128 also lowered levels of myeloperoxidase (MPO) — an inflammatory protein whose activity has been linked to Parkinson’s, the company reported.

Bened did not specify whether any of these differences were statistically significant.

“This study shows PS128’s potential for alleviating on- and off-state symptoms,” said Alain Delpy, PhD, head of international development at Bened.

Allen Wu, MD, a chief scientist at Bened, added that PS128 is “the first single-strain probiotic proven to be effective on [Parkinson’s].”

PS128 is currently available in nearly 30 countries in EuropeNorth AmericaAustralia, and Asia, Bened reported.

In the U.S., PS128 is currently sold in capsule form under the brand name Solace. Of note, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has never specifically approved a probiotic as a treatment for any disease; probiotics sold in the U.S. are typically marketed as dietary supplements (which are generally subject to less stringent regulations than medications).

A previous study suggested that PS128 can normalize some behaviors in people with autism. Positive results have also been shown for PS128 in the management of depression, according to Bened.