For over 10 years, scientists Patrice Cani, a WELBIO researcher at the Louvain Drug Research Institute, and Willem de Vos of the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, have been studying a bacterium called Akkermansia muciniphila, and have realized that this bacterium is found in smaller levels in obese mice. Treating mice with A. muciniphila, which is a common gut bacteria, seemed to reverse several metabolic disorders that led to obesity.
Since December 2015, trials for humans have started using A. muciniphila. They then discovered that pasteurization had very positive effects on the bacterium. Subjecting the bacterium to an elevated temperature kills off everything else in A. muciniphila except for a protein — the genetically engineered version of it is called Amuc_1100. When tested on mice, this protein appeared to be good for the immune system, blocking toxins from reaching the bloodstream, and strengthening intestinal immunity. This protein is the key to how A. muciniphila can combat obesity in mice. In the near future, it’s expected to be able to do the same thing in humans.