In addition, unlike the usual heat-killed technology, the firm also uses non heat-killed techniques to produce metabolites from live bacteria.
Set up in March 2020, My Myracle’s postbiotics are made based on the research findings and technical know-how of Selangor-based public research university Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
The company started small-scale production of postbiotics in the same year and only started commercial production last year after receiving registration approval from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia at the Healthplex Expo 2023 Natural & Nutraceutical Products China 2023 held in Shanghai, managing director Chin Kok Tian said that the firm’s products were the results of a 20-year-long research by UPM researchers Prof Dr. Foo Hooi Ling and Prof Dr. Loh Teck Chwen.
So far, the university has identified functional postbiotics produced by six different Lactobacillus plantarum strains and has developed a segregation technology that allows them to segregate postbiotics from live bacteria without having to use heat-killed technology.
The heat-killed technology is one of the most common ways of producing postbiotics at present.
The six bacteria strains used to produce the postbiotics are Lactobacillus plantarum RS05, RI-11, UL-4, TL-1, RG-14, and RG-11. The strains are derived from local Malaysia foods, such as fermented tapioca, fermented glutinous rice, and tempeh.
Postbiotics produced by the first three strains have been commercialised into finished products sold by My Myracle under the brand name Postbion and Mettabion.
The former uses postbiotics from Lactobacillus plantarum RS05 and RI-11 and claims to improve gut, immune health, blood cholesterol, and the body’s metabolism. The latter uses Lactobacillus plantarum UL-4 for anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial purposes.
My Myracle also runs B2B sales where it sells postbiotic ingredients to other food, supplement, and cosmetic businesses.
One advantage of using plant-derived bacteria is that it is "halal-friendly", which is especially relevant when selling in countries such as Malaysia.
“Most of the good bacteria used in fermentation are from cow, milk, plant, and faeces. However, in many occasions these days, if the bacteria comes from faeces, you wouldn’t be able to get the halal certification in Muslim countries. You are also not able to get kosher certification.
“Slowly, this industry will become more regulated, and a lot of vegetarians also do not want their [supplement] ingredients to come from pigs and chickens as well,” he said.
The company’s GMP facility has obtained accreditations such as HACCP, Halal, and MeSTI – a hygiene certification.
Chin also highlighted that the postbiotics were not produced by the conventional heat-killed technology. This allows components such as antioxidants to be retained.
“The researchers have developed a method for controlled fermentation, so that we get the metabolites that we want from the live bacteria consistently.
“Besides controlled fermentation which I think many people do, I think our firm is the only one so far that does not apply heat-killed technology to kill off the lactic acid bacteria.
“Most of the industry suppliers [that I met] were very surprised with how this could be done. I was also very surprised when I bought over the technology. This is because how can you get the metabolites if you don't kill the live bacteria?”
He explained that the researchers have developed a technique to segregate live bacteria from the metabolites and therefore, no heat is applied to the process.
“Our fermentation of live bacteria is below 40 degrees and we do not apply any heat throughout the process,” said Chin.
In fact, he said he was highly impressed with the innovation and in turn, decided to acquire the ownership rights of two of the university’s patents. They are Probiotic Composition for Nutraceutical Product (MY-162183-A) and Tumour Cytotoxic Agent and Methods Thereof (MY-158393-A).
Big companies coming into postbiotics space
Chin, who is trained in agricultural science and also runs food ingredient businesses, believes that postbiotics is a market to watch out for.
He pointed out how big companies such as Cargill and DSM are moving into this space.
Cargill, for example, has developed its postbiotic branded EpiCor while DSM announced in April that it has acquired postbiotics manufacturer Adare Biome.
Since companies are always on the lookout for new products and innovation, he believes that postbiotics is one of the options, especially since the probiotics space is becoming more crowded.
“The competition for probiotics is very intense and thus, once people saw that postbiotics are also science-backed, they are also moving into this space.”
Nurture what’s already there
Chin also believes that it is more important to nurture the unique beneficial bacteria composition in individuals using postbiotics, instead of introducing new bacteria into the gut by consuming probiotics.
“We also say that we want a golden ratio in our gut bacteria. We want 85 per cent good, friendly bacteria and 15 per cent bad bacteria so that we have a balanced microbiome.
“Every bacterium in the body has a function, but if you bring a very strong bacteria in, because it needs to colonise the gut, it will compete for resources and in the process, kill off other bacteria and we have seen this in in vitro setting.
“This is why when you incorporate an ‘outsider bacteria’, they could do harm as well, especially those that's very strong. This means you’ll have lesser bacteria that could perform different functions.
“Our concept is that you should nurture the good bacteria that’s already in your body and suppress the bad ones.”
The company is in the midst of planning and conducting a number of clinical trials on its postbiotics as an adjunctive treatment for cancer.
So far, Chin said the firm and researchers have conducted in-vitro tests with a few types of cancer cells.
It is now conducting studies on colon cancer using animal models and is applying to conduct a clinical trial on breast cancer in Malaysia.
“As a start-up, we are looking for partners or investors to do more clinical trials. We are now also doing some clinical trials using Mettabion on immunology and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a growing concern in Malaysia.”