Title : Probiotics and ghost probiotics as biotechnological tools in personalized medicine: Opportunities for Africa
The influence of intestinal state on the health of an individual is generating attention for patients and consumers willing to adapt their dietary habits to achieve best well-being and health. The gut microbiome, which is a complex and dynamic microbial community, is important in homeostatic physiological functions in human health. Advances in biotechnological technologies have resulted in rapid characterization of the gut microbiota leading to enhanced understanding of the functions as well as composition of intestinal bacterial populations and the consequences of any fluctuations in bacterial diversity on disease development. Elucidation of the gut microbiota has generated a lot interest in therapeutic strategies that deliberately or indirectly affect the intestinal microbiome to obtain health benefits. The gut microbiome is a significant element in precision medicine because the presence of specific strains may influence modulation of disease progression and therapeutics. The gut microbiota is thus regarded as a next generation medicine in precision diagnosis and personalized treatment. Potential therapeutic strategies may involve the use of precision probiotics and personalized ghost probiotics. Probiotics are widely used in many countries as a therapeutic agent and are acquired by consumers with or without prescription. Notable therapeutic effects of probiotics include restoration and balancing of the gut microbiome, maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity and protection against pathogens. However, there are still safety issues associated with the use of live microorganisms in vulnerable populations, limited regulations of the probiotics, high risk of acquisition and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes and lack of clear clinical dosages in each specific diagnosis. Safety issues have arisen particularly due to translocation of live bacteria from the intestines into the systemic circulation resulting in bacteremia and sepsis thus non-viable bacteria become the favored alternative. Ghost probiotics have shown biological responses to restore normal intestinal function and balance just like live probiotics. They are clinically safe since there is less risk of translocation into blood, no risk of acquisition and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes, release biologically active molecules and are easier to standardize, transport and store. The personalized probiotics and ghost probiotics are favored candidates to address Africa’s increasing disease burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. There has been increased and uncontrolled use of antimicrobials to treat communicable diseases and this has resulted in development of antimicrobial resistance which has further exacerbated Africa’s demise. There is a high prevalence of cancer and diabetes mellitus in many African countries whose prevalence can be reduced through the next generation probiotics and ghost probiotics use. This manuscript will serve to (i) highlight significance and influence of the gut microbiome to human health; (ii) increase awareness to problems associated with antimicrobial resistance and (iii) improve understanding of use of precision probiotics and ghost probiotics in disease diagnosis and personalized treatment in the African population.