Chuckling Goat are based in Llandysul and are the UKs number on producer of a cultured fermented milk drink known as kefir. Kefir is derived from goats’ milk, full of good bacteria, and is sold as a probiotic.
There is ongoing research into specific health benefits of taking probiotics during pregnancy. Some studies claim that probiotics can be used to treat pregnant women who have bacterial vaginosis, while others suggest that taking probiotics in pregnancy may reduce the likelihood of the baby developing eczema.
Impact of goats’ milk kefir on the biology of human placenta
A nine-month collaboration between Chuckling Goat and the Healthcare Technology Centre set out to examine the impact of goats’ milk kefir on the biology of the human placenta/trophoblast cells in vitro.
As a biological process, pregnancy involves several variations in hormones and physiology of the person, which are prerequisites of ensuring appropriate foetal growth and weight gain. The maintenance of maternal-foetal health could be established by proper nutritional supply during pregnancy. In this respect, the composition of the microbiota undergoes natural alterations in several sites of the body, including oral cavity, vagina, gut, breast milk, and placenta.
However, sufficient information exists on the association between gestational physio metabolic conditions and maternal microbiota. This collaboration was designed to investigate the impact of Chuckling Goats, goats’ milk kefir on the biology of the human trophoblast, with particular focus on the trophoblast inflammation.
An ambitious investigation was designed to examine the impact of Chuckling Goats, goats’ milk kefir in the immune response of pregnant women with a comparison made to non-pregnant women to determine i) if there was a broad immunomodulatory effect of the kefir and ii) if this differed in pregnancy. A further work package was included to investigate any immunomodulatory effect on the human placenta, using primary human placental organ cultures.
Following the March 2019 closure of the University due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting limitation placed on research and access to clinical samples, the proposed collaboration was adapted, and a new feasible work plan was undertaken to ensure the delivery could still be met.
HTC found that in vitro, kefir has an anti-inflammatory effect as noted by the decrease in inflammatory cytokine production (IL-6 and IL-8) without having any negative impact on trophoblast proliferation and growth. This is in keeping with other in vitro studies with other probiotics, further adding to the body of literature suggesting a beneficial effect of probiotic consumption during pregnancy.
Through this collaboration, Chuckling Goat has increased its links with academia and now has a good working-relationship with Swansea University Medical School. This has led to the potential of further industry/academic collaboration to expand on the research, development, and innovation.
Shann Jones, Director, Chuckling Goat:
“Through collaboration with the Healthcare Technology Centre, Chuckling Goat has been able to increase its links with academia and now has a good working-relationship with Swansea University.
This has led to the potential of further collaborative opportunities with the university, to expand on this research and development, which could potentially lead to new products.”
For more information visit: www.chucklinggoat.co.uk
This project is part of the Accelerate programme which is part-funded by the European Regional Development fund, through Welsh Government.