Staying alive: Aussie firm launches novel ingredient with patented microencapsulation tech

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Inferrin was developed in collaboration with Australian encapsulation firm Progel and the University of Queensland.
Inferrin was developed in collaboration with Australian encapsulation firm Progel and the University of Queensland.
Bega Bionutrients, the health and ingredient arm of Australian firm Bega Cheese, has launched a novel form of microencapsulated infant formula ingredient lactoferrin – Inferrin.

This format is designed to deliver lactoferrin's benefits by protecting it from premature degradation in the stomach, so it can reach the small intestine where most of its activity is thought to occur.

It was developed in collaboration with Australian encapsulation firm Progel and the University of Queensland, using the former's patented microencapsulation technology to produce lactoferrin encapsulated in common food-grade materials.

Protein protection

Lactoferrin, a major protein in human breast milk, is thought to be involved in supporting infants' developing immune and gastrointestinal system, and is a commonly used ingredient in infant nutritional formulas. Emerging research suggests it may also be involved in cognitive development.

Business manager Bradley Coleman told NutraIngredients-Asia​: "We believe many of its benefits can be extended to older children and adults. But as a protein, lactoferrin is at risk of being broken down by the harsh environment of the mature stomach before it can reach the small intestine.

"With Inferrin, lactoferrin is encased in a special matrix using Progel's patented technology. This protects the lactoferrin from degradation in the stomach. Once in the intestinal environment, Inferrin releases the lactoferrin so it can interact with its targets, such as cells of the immune system.

"It is commonly said that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut, so by delivering more lactoferrin to this region in its native form, we believe we can boost its effectiveness, particularly in adults."

He added that Inferrin's protective barrier can also extend the range of applications, providing formulators with the ability to utilise novel delivery formats, including gels, powders and liquids, in addition to traditional formats like capsules and tablets.

Studies in survival

Bega Bionutrients has conducted an initial pilot clinical trial on Inferrin in Australia, which it said produced 'promising results'.

The study was a double-blind RCT involving healthy male subjects, with the aim of comparing the efficacy and bioavailability of Inferrin to standard lactoferrin in terms of their effects on immune cell activity markers and the gut microbiome, as well as the gastric survivability of lactoferrin.

Each participant consumed capsules containing either Inferrin or standard lactoferrin once a day for 28 days, then switched to an alternative test product after a washout period.

Measurements were taken at the beginning and end of each trial period, and the researchers noted Inferrin's positive effects on immune markers and the gut microbiome, as well as higher lactoferrin levels in the faecal matter of participants who had taken Inferrin.

Coleman said, "This suggests Inferrin is indeed surviving degradation in the stomach and influencing the gut microbiome. The results are certainly exciting, and we look forward to the study being published."

He also revealed that there would be more trials on Inferrin, saying, "Bega Bionutrients is a science-driven organisation, and carrying out clinical research on our products is a critical  part of our strategy. We are currently planning a much larger clinical study on Inferrin to follow up on some of the key findings from the pilot trial."

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