Probiotic bacterium to be used in Estonian dairy products for at least another decade
On March 27, the University of Tartu (UT) and AS Tere, one of Estonia's largest dairy processors, signed a ten-year extension to the exclusive licence agreement that allows Tere to continue using the Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 bacterium discovered by the UT researchers in the production and marketing of dairy products in Estonia and twelve other European countries.
According to Erik Puura, UT's vice rector for development, the stable and substantive partnership of the university and the dairy producer is a good example of successful implementation of research results in the product development of an enterprise.
“What I particularly appreciate in the cooperation with Tere is its longevity: the enterprise has managed to keep ME-3 in their products attractive for the consumers, despite the fierce competition in the food industry. ME-3 is clearly a very efficient probiotic,” said Puura, satisfied with the continuation of the cooperation.
Tere's Marketing Director Alar Pink added that using the bacteria discovered at the university has taken the product group of Hellus kefir, traditional fermented milk drink, among the bestselling in Estonia.
The yogurt, fermented milk and kefir products of the Hellus product line contain the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 discovered at the UT. This is a patented invention “Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 – an antimicrobial and antioxidative probiotic” by the UT researchers Marika Mikelsaar, Mihkel Zilmer, Tiiu Kullisaar, Heidi Annuk and Epp Songisepp.
In 2013, Marika Mikelsaar was nominated for the World Food Prize for the discovery.
Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 is unique as it combines two aspects: it is antimicrobial and antioxidative at the same time. Thus it has a direct destructive effect on microbes and a beneficial effect on the human organism.
In 2014, in cooperation with the French development partner VF Bioscience, the ME-3 also reached the cholesterol-reducing food supplement Reg’Activ Cholesterol. The supplement is already sold in pharmacies in Estonia, France, the Philippines and, since March 2015, also in the US.