Where it all started...
It all started in 2008 when my 3-year-old daughter was admitted with dehydration, secondary to a virus-related diarrhea and vomiting; commonly referred to as stomach bug! My wife and I are both medical doctors and well aware that not all diarrhea in pediatric age needs hospitalization, leave alone iv-re-hydration or medication. When she started passing loose, frequent and unusual stools, we kept her well hydrated (to the extent that we could) but also added probiotics to help replenish gut flora and possibly alter and mitigate the effects of the illness. After three days, the situation got worse. She was not improving, dehydration had become more severe and eventually, we called the pediatrician on a Saturday morning. The pediatrician advised that we admit her for IV (Intravenous) re-hydration and observation.
In the meantime, we continued using probiotics to the extent she could keep it down. Like most in medical practice, the pediatrician introduced a broad spectrum antibiotic to cover for any unforeseen infections especially in a hospital setting. After two days in hospital, she was getting better and was discharged on the third day. It only took another 5 to 7 days for full recovery and back to day-care center. That brought the whole duration of disease and convalescence close to over 14 days or approx. 2 weeks.
This jolted me out of my comfort zone and gave me time to reflect on a number of issues. In addition to the emotional trauma, I had a hunch and conviction that all was not well with the general approach accepted for management of diarrhea and vomiting. Specifically, I narrowed down to the data and clinical information on the use of probiotics in both Infective (usually viral) diarrhea and Antibiotic-Induced Diarrhea.
Probiotics have been shown to successfully reduce the period of convalescence and recuperation in both illnesses. There is overwhelmingly supportive medical and clinical data. The science and rationale of using probiotics in both types of diarrhea is unquestionably clinically sound and sensible. So what went wrong? Could there have been a few aberrations, deviations or anomalies that I needed to dig deeper and unfold. That’s what I did!
To my amazement, I uncovered that there were major discrepancies in the ingredients’ label claims vs actual quantities (counted in billion CFU/g) of probiotics in the commercially available products. The probiotics used in most research studies versus what is available on the retail pharmacy shelves differed enormously in the quantities and amounts of viable probiotic against the label claims. Furthermore, the amount of viable probiotic that is delivered to the gut (ileum and colon) where it is required, is so miniscule to have any appreciable and desirable clinical effect. The damaging effect of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, means that most probiotics cannot stand this acidic environment and get decimated before reaching the intestines.
I spun into action to find out whether there would be viable solutions to this dilemma. There we very few promising approaches and almost none that could have solved the two primary obstacles that I faced i.e. Increase shelf life of the probiotics and protect it from the naturally-devastating effects of stomach acid. After a mountain of clinical data and research, I came across one of the most ingenious and ground breaking research that had been carried out over 15 years in one of the leading research institutions, Pretoria, South Africa. A number of scientists had come up with a clever way of encapsulating (covering) the probiotic with a polymer which protected it from natural elements and thus increased its shelf-life.
This technology also ensured that the probiotic was not released in acidic environment within the stomach and only delivered the active ingredient (probiotic) in the intestinal alkaline environment – where it is required and active. At that point, I knew we had come across something special!
This would be a way of PROTECTING the probiotics, DELIVERING it to the gut and offering the WELLNESS associated with probiotics to the general population. This got me excited and thought of all possibilities of Protecting and Delivering Wellness associated with probiotics. A way of reducing my daughter’s future diarrhea episodes to a few days. Even more exciting was the possibility of using this novel technology to deliver probiotics in form of food and meal replacements; something that very few manufacturers have attempted in the past due to difficulties in protection, storage and delivery of probiotics.
The journey has been strenuous, grueling and taxing. From the institutional red-tape of large organizations, capitalization, capacity, to sourcing polymers that are only manufactured by a handful of specialized institutions in the world, getting to the final product has been nerve-wrecking. But it is well worth it.
Ultimately, we developed this technology to Velobiotics™: a novel and patented technology that helps protect probiotics “ good bacteria” from reduced storage viability and preservation when passing through the harsh stomach acidic environment.
Click here to learn more about Velobiotics Microencapsulation.
Velobiotics™ is derived from the Latin word “VELO” that in English, translates to “ veil, cover, cover up; enfold, wrap, envelop; hide, conceal; clothe in”.