Lactobacillus Fermentum ME-3 Bacteria and the Hellus Product Line
In 1995, a UT research team led by Professor Marika Mikelsaar and Professor Mihkel Zilmer discovered the Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 bacteria, which can rightfully be called the first Estonian probiotic lactic acid bacteria.
As of today, Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 is a unique probiotic, since it is the only one in the world to have two sets of patented properties:
1) antimicrobial properties (direct and adverse effects on harmful bacteria)
The ME-3 bacteria reduce the risk of gastrointestinal tract infections, especially those of salmonellosis and shigellosis by attacking and neutralising various harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the strong antioxidative properties of ME-3 reinforce the mucous membrane of the intestinal wall and inhibit the spread of infections from the gastrointestinal tract to other organs.
2) antioxidant properties (indirect beneficial effects promoting human health)
Probiotic ME-3 bacteria can be effectively combined with antimicrobial treatments, i.e., with drugs such as fluorquinolones, Metronidazole and Biseptol (TMP-SMX).
ME-3 bacteria are capable of neutralising harmful hydroxyl radicals produced in the human body as a result of metabolism. In test volunteers, the use of ME-3 increased the antioxidant potential of the blood serum and decreased lipid peroxidation, thus offering protection against atherosclerosis and slowing the ageing process of blood vessels.
The properties of the ME-3 bacteria have been demonstrated and tested in numerous laboratory and clinical studies. Due to an absence of harmful side effects, ME-3 have been found suitable for use in food products.
In May 2008, the University of Tartu and Tere plc signed an amendment to the licensing agreement already in existence between the two parties, allowing Tere to produce and market dairy products enriched with beneficial Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 bacteria in Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Austria.
Functional dairy products containing the same bacterial strain are now also available on the Finnish market. Osuuskunta Maitokolmio was the first licensed foreign user of the strain, adding ME-3 to its Nami brand products.