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European Biopharmaceutical Review

From Pharma to Beauty

We are surrounded by microbes: in the air we breathe, our environment, and our body itself, which harbours billions of microbes in our gut, skin, eyes, urinary tract, etc. They interact with the bodyís main functions and particularly its natural defences. Back in the 1970s, doctors had the idea to use parts of microbes (bacterial lysates) to stimulate immune defences. These mixtures of inactivated pathogenic bacteria were able to protect the body by stimulating both types of immune response: acquired and innate. Today, as people are looking for holistic approaches to protect their health, bacterial lysates have gained renewed interest. Their modes of actions are better understood as they have the ability to stimulate the immune defences, but also to reduce inflammatory reactions when the immune system is overloaded. Thus, their scope of applications has grown and they can currently be used in various areas: as drugs for the prevention of respiratory infections, but also in dermo-cosmetic applications.

What Are Bacterial Lysates?

Bacterial lysates are mixtures of inactivated, killed bacteria that may contain all the components of the bacteria cells (soluble and insoluble). In drug applications, bacterial lysates may be derived from inactivated pathogenic bacteria; the principle is to trigger immune surveillance thanks to the antigens derived from the bacteria and to up-regulate immune defences to prevent and help fight infections. In other cases, such as certain cosmetic applications, the bacteria used may be commensal or bacteria selected from the environment.

In the case of immunostimulant drugs, polyvalent bacterial lysates are prepared from different species of bacteria. Each strain is grown independently in fermenters, harvested, then inactivated by heat, and lysed using either mechanical or chemical lysis. Chemical lysates are obtained by the action of chemical alkaline substances that may denature the antigenic structures. Mechanical bacterial lysates are obtained by high pressure, which preserves the particulate antigens. This is of importance as the preservation of the antigenic structure warrantees a stronger immune response. After lyophilisation, the different lysates are mixed in fixed proportions, and formulated into finished products (sub-lingual tablets, capsules, sachets, and so on).

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A specialist in microbiology and microbial applications, Dr Christian Sanchez has headed the specialty division of Lallemand group from 1983 to 2011, where he was instrumental in the development of the group activities in key markets such as oenology, animal and human nutrition, and pharma applications before supporting the recent development of the plant care division of the company. Today, as Senior Vice President and Special Advisor, he advises the company on new developments for microbial solutions, such as the cosmetics market. Christian holds a Doctorate in biological science from Toulouse University, France, and held various positions in teaching and research at Toulouse University before joining the biotechnology industry. 

Maxence de Villemeur is Marketing and Sales Manager for Lallemand Pharma since October 2010 and is in charge of global business and marketing development of polyvalent mechanical bacterial lysates. Prior to this, she was Product Manager in the health division of Lallemand. Maxence has over 15 years of marketing and business experience in international healthcare and pharma markets. She holds an MBA in international management from ESC Clermont-Ferrand, France, and graduated in product development engineering from Cergy-Pontoise Industrial Biology Engineering School at EBI, France.
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Dr Christian Sanchez
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Maxence de Villemeur
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