Greenshell mussel is a famous local produce from New Zealand, known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, while fucoidan is a compound found in the seaweed Undaria pinnatifda native to Japan.
While there are already supplements containing each of these two ingredients in the market, combining the two together is a novel innovation.
Led by Dr Jun Lu from the Auckland University of Technology, the study has recently been awarded with NZ$803k (US$518k) from the country’s High-Value Nutrition Science Challenge.
The eventual aim is to develop a new functional food that combines GSM and fucoidan that produces the health benefits of both ingredients for the Asian market.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Dr Lu said that the present plan was to conduct a 100-day double-blind, randomised and controlled human clinical trial – to be conducted in the later part of this year.
It will recruit 150 New Zealand Chinese, between the age of 35 and 65, who are suffering from joint pain and diabetes.
Dr Lu said that the prototype would be presented in the form of a functional food. While the exact format is not yet decided, it will contain 200mg of GSM and 200mg of fucoidan.
The trial will find out whether the combination of mussel and fucoidan has benefits on inflammation, immune stimulation, and glycaemic control.
“The planned clinical trial will put us in the forefront of the science of mussel-fucoidan combinations in creating high-value foods for health, and to provide validated health claims for the product and the industry,” he said.
The project will also involve researchers from the University of Auckland and the National University of Singapore.
The trial will add on to the series of in-vivo and in-vitro trial findings that Dr Lu had been researching for the past 10 years.
Besides a novel combination, the project also seeks to differentiate itself by incorporating mussel-fucoidan in functional foods.
Dr Lu said that this was to tap on the current market trend, where functional foods were preferred.
“By putting it into a food, it leaves a deeper impression, it is easier for people to remember and there is a higher chance of regular consumption.
“It is also a bit inconvenient to consume if it comes in the form of tablets.”
Beyond Capital MedTech is the project’s industrial partner.
All eyes on GSM
The GSM is one of the key foods studied under the High-Value Nutrition challenge, alongside kiwi and wagyu beef.
The aim is to find out if GSM could improve joint and bone health and in turn drive exports.
Previous research has shown that it could reduce the incidence or slow the progression of early metabolic associated osteoarthritis (MetOA).
“This HVN project will create an opportunity for Asian consumers to know and accept New Zealand green shell mussel plus fucoidan as a high-value food,” said Joanne Todd, director of HVN on the current project led by Dr Lu.
“This will particularly benefit New Zealand, leading to greater awareness and demand for these products in our export markets.”