New Yogurt Contains Ulcer-reducing Antibodies

March 24, 2009

Scientists in Japan have developed a new yogurt that includes an antibody that significantly reduced levels of ulcer-producing bacteria in study participants.

Scientists in Japan have developed a new yogurt that includes an antibody that significantly reduced levels of ulcer-producing bacteria in study participants.

Researchers from Kyoto Women's University used the protein urease—relied upon by H. pylori to attach to and infect the stomach lining—to create the antibody that is found in the new yogurt.

Study coordinator Hajime Hatta, PhD and her team injected chickens with urease and allowed their systems to build up antibodies to the protein. The antibody, called IgY-urease, was then extracted from the eggs of the chickens and put into the yogurt.

Participants who were positive for H. pylori were fed two cups of yogurt for four weeks, one group with the antibody and one without. The amount of urea, a by-product of urease, was significantly lower in the group fed the yogurt with the antibody than the group given the yogurt without it, which indicated reduced bacterial activity, according to the researchers.

“The results indicate that the suppression of H. pylori infection in humans could be achieved by drinking yogurt fortified with urease antibody,” said Hatta.

The new yogurt, already on store shelves in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, is part of the up-and-coming “functional food” market, which already generates $60 billion annually. The results of the study, according to the researchers, make it a possibility that the yogurt will soon be available in the US.

Though the yogurt was not as effective as antibiotics for reducing H. pylori, Hatta says that it is much easier to take than antibiotics and can be eaten every day as a regular part of one’s diet. The antibody did not impact the taste of the yogurt.

Hatta also added, however, that ‘anti-ulcer yogurt’ is not for everyone. The yogurt contains egg yolk, which normally has a lower allergen level than egg whites, but the possibility for an allergy reaction is still present.