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New generation of nutritional products

16 January 2015

New generation of nutritional products

The development of a stable delivery system for key health enhancing properties could soon be applied to general foodstuffs thanks to the efforts of a team of scientists from the Riddet Institute.

The health benefits of Omega 3 and other essential bioactive materials such as antioxidants, vitamins, lactoferrin and bovine serum albumin are widely known. However, bioactive material easily degrades during processing, storage and digestion so a group of Riddet Institute scientists have been studying delivery carriers.

For nearly a decade Dr Aiqian Ye and his colleagues have been researching food derived carriers with breakthroughs that have important implications for New Zealand's dairy farmers - adding value to what they already produce.

"We are working towards developing a new generation of health-enhancing foods using milk-derived encapsulating systems that allow for higher dose delivery."

Internationally, much research has been carried out on the delivery of medicines via chemically-synthesized molecules however less research has been carried out on nutraceutical delivery via naturally occurring molecules. This research is carried out here in New Zealand and is funded through the government's Centres of Research Excellence funding.

Dr Aiqian Ye says if we can ensure that the beneficial properties survive processing, storage and the journey through the digestive system then health benefits can be magnified.

"We've created NanoEmulsion Shell Technology, known as NEST for short, through a joint venture between the Riddet Institute and Speirs Nutritionals, a local biotechnology company.

"It is a protein-coated nanoemulsion droplet that protects, in this particular case, Omega 3 from oxidation thereby improving the chances of the nutraceutical arriving to the right location for digestion. We used micellar casein, a milk-derived substance, as the emulsifying agent. The IP has since been secured by a global European manufacturer which is using the technology and marketing it internationally in a joint venture."

More recently Dr Ye and his colleagues have researched a further protective layer using liposome technology to deliver active compounds such as lactoferrin and vitamin C.

"In the near future, we anticipate products on the shelves of supermarkets that utilise this technology. However that will be up to manufacturers and consumer demand."

"Our work also has repercussions for the medical world as food-derived molecules may have more appeal than chemically-synthesized molecules."

Dr Ye says the group now need to research more protective layers with the aim of improving delivery.

“This work is well recognised internationally with a number of PhD students from other countries due here shortly to continue to work on this field alongside our team at the Riddet Institute”.

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