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From the Townsend Letter
August / September 2010

Klaire Labs' Fourth Annual Symposium to Focus on Role of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Enzymes in Immune Function

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The decades following the end of the Second World War have seen an explosion in the incidence and prevalence of immune-mediated disorders. This pandemic has included a simultaneous increase in auto­immune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and Crohn's disease, characterized by excessive T helper 1 (Th1) responses, as well as a dramatic growth in allergic disorders characterized by overexpression of T helper 2 (Th2) activities. Understanding the pathogenesis of immune-mediated disorders and how to successfully treat them is clearly incumbent on clinicians.

One proposed etiology for the current pandemic of immune-mediated diseases is the "Old Friends" hypothesis, which posits that lack of childhood exposure to organisms that have long been part of human evolutionary ecology leads to impaired immunomodulation by T regulatory cells and unrestrained Th1 or Th2 immune responses. The gastrointestinal microbiota are the oldest of Old Friends. Primed by the maternal gut microflora and stimulated by prebiotics in breast milk, the neonatal intestinal microbiota engender normal maturation of the immune system and induce immunotolerance. Pre- and probiotics have been shown to promote normal regulatory T cell function, protect the body from environmental allergens and pathogens, and reduce the risk of allergic and autoimmune disorders. Reconnecting with the Old Friends of the gut microbiota is one effective approach to developing and maintaining a healthy immune system.

This year, Klaire Labs has organized its Fourth Annual Probiotic Symposium to address the need for clinician education about the role of gastrointestinal dysbiosis in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated diseases and the use of Old Friends such as probiotics, prebiotics, and enzymes in preventing and treating these disorders. Klaire Labs has assembled an acclaimed, international faculty of experts to deliver two days of authoritative lectures on a spectrum of topics relating to immune function, gut microflora, probiotics, prebiotics, and enzymes. The symposium offers the opportunity to hear firsthand and interact with experts in this important clinical field.

Gerard E. Mullin, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of Integrative Nutrition Services at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Hospital, will open the symposium with an overview of the pivotal role of the intestinal microbiota in the normal development of the immune system. He will review the Old Friends and hygiene hypotheses for the etiology of autoimmune and allergic disorders, as well as touch on how rebalancing the gut microbiota may successfully prevent and treat these diseases.

Michael Cabana, MD, MPH, is professor of pediatrics, epidemiology, and biostatistics and chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Cabana will cover the use of pre- and probiotics in infancy and childhood. He has a long-standing interest in the use of probiotics for the prevention of asthma in childhood. Dr. Cabana is the principal investigator for the NIH/NCCAM Probiotic Outcomes on Enteric Microflora (POEM) study and for the NIH/NHLBI Trial of Infant Probiotic Supplementation on Developing Asthma.

Helena Tlaskalová-Hogenová, MD, PhD, DSc, will lecture on the role of the gut microbiota and mucosal immune system in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Dr. Tlaskalová-Hogenová is professor of immunology at the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, in Prague, Czech Republic. She is also a member of the Czech Institute of Microbiology and Academy of Sciences. Dr. Tlaskalová-Hogenová is an internationally recognized expert on mucosal immunity and on the interactions of the gut microflora with the innate immune system.

Marko Kalliomäki, MD, PhD, is a consultant in pediatric gastro­enterology and adjunct professor of pediatrics at the University of Turku in Finland. Dr. Kalliomäki has performed and published numerous clinical studies on probiotics and allergies. He is an authority on the use of probiotics to prevent and treat allergic diseases in infancy and childhood and will review this important topic.

Martin H. Floch, MD, is a master of the American College of Gastroenterology, clinical professor of medicine at Yale University, and editor of the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. His clinical expertise is in inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and disorders of malabsorption such as celiac disease and short bowel syndrome. Dr. Floch has a long-standing interest in the use of probiotics in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and will review the role of probiotics in managing inflammatory bowel disease.

William H. Marks, MD, PhD, MHA, founded the organ transplant program and laboratory for transplantation biology at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and held the Robert B. McMillen Chair for transplantation. Dr. Marks is the executive medical director for Alexion Pharmaceuticals and continues to serve as adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, College of Pharmacy. Dr. Marks will present the results of a clinical trial of probiotics for the prevention of immunosuppression-associated diarrhea in patients following kidney transplantation.

Erkki Savilahti, MD, PhD, is professor of pediatrics and chief of the Department of Gastroenterology, Nutrition, and Clinical Immunology at the Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Helsinki. He is chief investigator for Flora 1 and 2, clinical research on probiotics in the treatment and prevention of allergies in children. Dr. Savilahti is author of more than 280 peer-reviewed scientific publications. He will discuss the use of probiotics to prevent and treat food allergies and asthma.

Stephen F. Olmstead, MD, is chief science officer at ProThera Inc., where he directs clinical trials and basic research. His current research focuses on the use of enzymes and chelating agents to disrupt pathogenic GI biofilm and pre- and probiotics to restore gut microbial balance. He will review dysbiosis and the role of immune responses to Candida biofilms in chronic fatigue syndrome and related disorders.

Klaire Labs' Fourth Annual Probiotic Symposium will take place October 1 and 2 in New Orleans. Continuing medical education credits will be provided through WorldLink Medical. For registration, contact WorldLink Medical at 888-222-2966 toll-free Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. mountain time; e-mail WorldLink Medical at; or visit


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