Papaya leaf extract for dengue: NZ firm develops supplement as adjunctive to mosquito disease

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fuller Young International has developed a supplement based on papaya leaves extract as an adjunctive to dengue treatment. ©Getty Images
Fuller Young International has developed a supplement based on papaya leaves extract as an adjunctive to dengue treatment. ©Getty Images

Related tags: dengue, New zealand, papaya

A nutraceutical and functional food company from New Zealand has developed an adjunctive treatment for dengue using papaya leaf extract.

Fuller Young International says it is planning to launch the product first in Malaysia by mid-2021.

The supplement is made from the leaves of a papaya variant named Wakatengu, which is grown in Kerikeri, north of New Zealand.

The variant grown in New Zealand is said to be higher in concentration in polyphenols, vitamin A, C, and anti-viral compounds, due to environment factors such as sunlight, CEO Raymond Young told NutraIngredients-Asia. ​  

“Getting a standardised extract is difficult. We have tried papaya leaves from Malaysia, China, the pacific islands, India, and there is a huge difference in structure.

“And so, we decided to make our own variant of the papaya plant,”​ he said. 

The project was undertaken with the Plant & Food Research, part of the Crown Research Institute and the papaya leaves extract has been trademarked as Payavalu.

As part of the adjunctive treatment, one will need to take two capsules of the product per day to speed up recovery from dengue.

In South East Asia and the Pacific islands, papaya leaves have been traditionally used as an herbal remedy for mosquito virus.

A meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Applied Basic Medical Research​ during 2016 showed that leaf extract from the carica variant papaya could increase platelet count of dengue patients.

Dengue fever is known to bring down the platelet count, and severe reduction could be fatal.

The meta-analysis looked at four trials involving 439 subjects and there was also a significant decrease in hospitalisation days in the intervention group.

However, the researchers also called for larger clinical trials to provide further evidence.

Immune-boosting supplement

The company is also working with two universities based in Kuala Lumpur in developing an immune-boosting supplement, also based on papaya leaves extract and the unripe papaya fruit.

The idea is to strengthen the immune system by increasing the production of the T helper (Th) cells – which plays an important role in adaptive immunity.

According to Young, the supplement will most likely come in a 100ml bottle liquid shot and expected to be launched within this year.

“From our tests, the green, unripe papaya fruit is 50 percent higher in some enzymes as compared to the ripe papaya,”​ Young said.

To prevent the beneficial enzymes from being destroyed during heat processing, the company has adopted the high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) method.

Local New Zealand institutions Callaghan Innovation, Massey University, and University of Otago are currently involved in the testing of the efficacy of the product. 

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