Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Moving from probiotics to precision probiotics

A precision approach to probiotics could address the heterogeneity inherent to probiotic strains, the hosts and their microbiomes. Here, we discuss the steps required to develop precision probiotics: mechanistic studies, phenotypic and target-based discovery strategies, and person-centric trials.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Probiotics and precision probiotics development modalities.


  1. O'Toole, P. W., Marchesi, J. R. & Hill, C. Nat. Microbiol. 2, 17057 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Suez, J., Zmora, N., Segal, E. & Elinav, E. Nat. Med. 25, 716–729 (2019).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Sniffen, J. C., McFarland, L. V., Evans, C. T. & Goldstein, E. J. C. PLoS ONE 13, e0209205 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Tannock, G. W. et al. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66, 2578–2588 (2000).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Maldonado-Gomez, M. X. et al. Cell Host Microbe 20, 515–526 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Zhang, C. et al. ISME J. 10, 2235–2245 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Guyonnet, D., Schlumberger, A., Mhamdi, L., Jakob, S. & Chassany, O. Br. J. Nutr. 102, 1654–1662 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Zmora, N. et al. Cell 174, 1388–1405 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Swinney, D. C. Clin. Pharmacol. Ther. 93, 299–301 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Kelly, J. R. et al. Brain Behav. Immun. 61, 50–59 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Lucas, N. et al. Microorganisms 8, E35 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. TargEDys. Study to evaluate benefit of ProbioSatys on weight reduction in overweight subjects. (2018).

  13. Suez, J. et al. Cell 174, 1406–1423 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Schork, N. J. Nature 520, 609–611 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Rashkin, M. D. et al. J. Genet. Couns. 28, 456–465 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank the members of the Elinav laboratory and members of the DKFZ Cancer-Microbiome division for discussions. We apologize to authors whose work was not included due to space constraints. We also thank L. Jimenez, S. Miret-Catalan and D. Obis (members of Danone Nutricia Research) for the discussions. E.E. is supported by: Y. and R. Ungar; the Abisch Frenkel Foundation for the Promotion of Life Sciences; the Gurwin Family Fund for Scientific Research; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; the Crown Endowment Fund for Immunological Research; the Else Kroener Fresenius Foundation; the estate of J. Gitlitz; the estate of L. Hershkovich; the Benoziyo Endowment Fund for the Advancement of Science; the Adelis Foundation; J. L. and V. Schwartz; A. and G. Markovitz; A. and C. Adelson; the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS); D. L. Schwarz; the V. R. Schwartz Research Fellow Chair; L. Steinberg; J. N. Halpern; A. Edelheit; and by grants funded by the European Research Council, the Israel Science Foundation and the Helmholtz Foundation. E.E. is the Sir Marc & Lady Tania Feldmann Professorial Chair in Immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Director of the Microbiome Research Division at DKFZ, is a senior fellow of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research (CIFAR) and an international scholar of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



P.V., M.D., J.S. and E.E. wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Patrick Veiga or Eran Elinav.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

P.V. and M.D. are Danone Nutricia Research employees. E.E. is a paid consultant at DayTwo and BiomX. None of this work is related to, shared with or licensed to these companies or any other commercial entity. The remaining author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Veiga, P., Suez, J., Derrien, M. et al. Moving from probiotics to precision probiotics. Nat Microbiol 5, 878–880 (2020).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing