The Need

Enhancing Human Health

In recent years progress in DNA sequencing technology and its application to the analysis of complex microbial ecologies has enabled an enormous increase in understanding of the vital contributions made by a normal balanced human gut microbial community towards general health. As a result of these advances in knowledge, there has been an explosion of interest in products which support maintenance of a healthy digestive system. There is now strong evidence that hMOS, representing the only known class of natural human prebiotics, support the robust growth of beneficial commensal and mutualist bacteria found in the normal human gut. A healthy and balanced gut microbiota can prevent and combat disease in many areas, including the following listed below:

Infectious Diarrhea

Worldwide, infectious diarrhea is responsible for approximately 20% of all mortality in children under the age of five, or an estimated 1 million deaths annually. In addition to directly causing illness and death, diarrhea contributes to mortality from other causes in children, including malnutrition and malaria, as well as seriously impacting lifelong cognitive abilities. In the United States, although the overall infectious diarrhea mortality rate is lower, the disease nevertheless has an annual incidence of over 375 million cases in pediatric and adult populations, and is responsible for approximately 900,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 deaths per year.

Respiratory Disease

Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) are one of the most common causes of death in children ages 0 to 5, causing over 1.5 million fatalities per year. The peak incidence of severe Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) disease is at age 2 to 8 months. Overall, 4 to 5 million children younger than 4 years old acquire an RSV infection annually, resulting in more than 125,000 children hospitalized each year in the United States. Virtually all children have had at least 1 RSV infection by the age of 3 years. Every year, pneumonia causes the death of over 100,000 infants less than one year of age, which is an average of 300 deaths every day. In the developing world, it is estimated that one child in three develops clinical pneumonia each year.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a major cause of illness and death for low birth-weight babies in the US and around the world. It is the most common gastrointestinal medical/surgical emergency in newborns, occurring in 7% to 13% of very low birth-weight infants, and involves bowel injury and intestinal necrosis. Mortality rates in term infants with NEC range from 20% to 40%, and may exceed 50% for premature infants. Surgery is required in about 30% of the cases, with surgery-associated mortality as high as 50%. Overall, about 25,000 US babies per year develop NEC, and at least 20% die from this illness. Glycosyn and partners are developing and testing therapies for NEC.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

At least 4 million people (including one million Americans, 23,000 Australians, and 250,000 Canadians) worldwide suffer from some form of IBD, including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Currently there are no proven methods for predicting flares or for treating IBD. Loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss are common, as is fatigue. In cases of severe bleeding, anemia may also occur. In addition, there may be skin lesions, joint pain, eye inflammation, and liver disorders. Children may fail to develop or grow properly. Glycosyn and partners are conducting experiments to determine the impact of hMOS in preclinical models of IBD, with promising initial results.