User experiences playing a larger role in research
Since our founding 35 years ago, Winclove Probiotics has been vigorous in its research into the health effects of probiotics. This energy and commitment drives our collaborations not only with universities, research institutes and hospitals, but also with our business partners. And looking beyond our clinical studies, we see an increasingly vital role for user research. After all, the more we learn about our actual patients’ and users’, the more we know about how our products can improve the quality of their lives.
Insight into bacterial strains
Research is of course crucial to product development; as such we gain valuable insight into the properties of our bacterial strains by research. Our research allows us to effectively match the unique properties of individual strains with the underlying working mechanisms of the problem/complaint aimed for. ‘We select those bacterial strains on the basis of in vitro (laboratory) research using individual strains’, explains Isolde. ‘After we’ve developed the product, a study is often done in the target group for whom the product was developed to examine user effectiveness in that population too.’
Studies investigating the effect of final formulations
Our Patient-Centered Clinical Development team (PCCD) researches the effects of probiotics on people; what does probiotic use mean for individuals and their health conditions? Isolde Besseling, Head of Patient-Centered Clinical Development, says, ‘A large part of our work consists of initiating, managing and validating studies using our end formulations: probiotics for specific indications. Another important goal here is to obtain in vivo evidence. In this way we can demonstrate in the clinically researched population that our formulation does in fact have the effect we developed it for.’ This burden of proof and the knowledge it creates greatly facilitate the medical endorsement of the products and our partners’ marketing of them.
Examining broader effects as well
Clinical studies, with RCTs (randomized controlled trials) as the gold standard, contribute in validating the effects we envision for our products. ‘But on the other hand, probiotics often have a much broader effect that sometimes even we are not fully aware of’, says Isolde. ‘In addition, RCTs are often done in a more tightly defined, or more homogeneous, population, whereas in daily practice we see user groups that are far more diverse. By performing user trials we also gain insight into the effects experienced in the larger target group, and therefore more insight into whom a product can or can’t benefit.’
Moreover, the clinical outcome measures that are important to doctors may differ in importance to the patients or consumers. Isolde: ‘The users also experience other benefits from probiotics, like getting more energy or feeling mentally stronger and being able to participate more in their social lives; or being able to take our probiotics easily. Such outcome measures are very relevant to the quality of life of patients, and not always included from the clinical RCTs.’
Improving quality of life
This is why in the research on our formulations the Winclove PCD team includes elements other than just the effect on relevant working mechanisms and clinical outcome measures. And this is why Isolde is so passionate about ‘the impact that our products have on the patient / consumer. For Winclove improving the quality of life is an important goal indeed. And what’s more, it’s one that connects seamlessly with our goal to be the best company for the world!’
A current example of this type of research is our retrospective research into user experience with probiotics, in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam (VU) and CR2O (a contract research organisation). It examines among other things the impact of various probiotics on the quality of life.
Do you want to know more about our patient-centered clinical research? Then please feel free to contact us.