It has been well documented over recent decades that Westernized populations have high rates of allergic disease, particularly infants and children. A range of explanations for this observation have been explored, including the role of the infant microbiome and, more recently the maternal microbiome during pregnancy.

Further, it has been proposed that the loss of specific bacterial species from our ancestral microbiota may be driving the increase in immune related diseases, and that depletion in the diversity of the gut microbiome may be, in part, linked to a decrease in dietary fibre intake.

Bringing these ideas together, the Barwon Infant Study (BIS) team discovered that maternal carriage of a specific bacteria, Prevotella copri (P. copri), during pregnancy strongly predicts the absence of food allergy in the offspring (1). This compelling finding has exciting public health implications, given the dramatic increase in allergic disease and the low rate of P. copri carriage in the modern world – an organism that is virtually ubiquitous in traditional, non-industrial communities (where infant allergy rates are much lower).

Prevatex has built on the studies of the BIS team and licensed intellectual property related to this discovery. We are now developing a P. copri based probiotic for maternal use. By augmenting and normalizing the maternal microbiome, we believe that we will offer infants a natural way to reduce the risk of developing food allergies.

Extending this finding is a recent independent study in children that has also linked the presence of P. copri in the childs’ gut microbiome with an absence of food allergy (2).

  1. Maternal carriage of Prevotella during pregnancy associates with protection against food allergy in the offspring. Vuillermin PJ, O’Hely M, Collier F, et al. Nat Commun. 2020 Mar 24;11(1):1452.
  2. Microbial signature in IgE-mediated food allergies. Goldberg MR, Mor H, Magid Neriya D, et al. Genome Med. 2020 Oct 27;12(1):92.