The supplement, Nichi Glucan, manufactured and distributed by Japan-based GN Corporation, is typically consumed for maintaining overall health and immunity.
Nichi Glucan is derived from Aureobasidium (black yeast). It contains beta-D-glucans which are the active compounds found in the cell walls of yeast, fungi and seaweed.
Beta-D-glucans also known as biological response modifier glucans (BRMGs), they have been well documented in animal and human studies for improving insulin sensitivity, increasing satiety, and reducing cholesterol serum levels.
There are many beta glucans, but the active ingredient in Nichi Glucan is Beta 1,3-1,6 D-Glucan, which is recognised for its immune properties.
Clinical trial in India
Nichi Glucan is currently studied in a clinical trial in India. The trial is recruiting 48 adult COVID-19 patients (18-65 years old) in Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad, India. One of the co-investigators is Dr Suryaprakash Vaddi from Yashoda Hospital.
The trial is funded by India-Japanese joint ventures, Medi Nippon Health Care Private Limited and Nichi-In Biosciences Pvt Ltd. Nichi Glucan is provided by GN Corporation.
The randomised, two arm clinical study will see the treatment group given 3g of Nichi Glucan daily for 30 days in addition to conventional therapy. The control group is on the conventional therapy only.
The treatment group is administered two sachets of Nichi Glucan (0.5g each) thrice daily, taken orally 30 minutes after every meal.
The primary outcomes would be the time taken to improve, recover and the recurrence of typical symptoms, as well as immunological parameters from peripheral blood.
The study is expected to be completed by April 2021.
“Should everything go well, though this product is not a drug or a vaccine, this could be used as a vaccine adjuvant, because earlier in animal studies and in poultry, its efficacies as an adjuvant has been reported in H5N1 and H5N2 infection,” Dr Samuel JK. Abraham, head of R&D at GN Corporation told NutraIngredients-Asia.
In the general population, a survey conducted by GN Corporation on 462 Nichi Glucan consumers in Japan, found over 65% of consumers reported that the supplement improved their immunity, 22% felt it relieved constipation, 15% said it helped skin firmness, 11% for stable blood pressure. Other effects reported were creating a stable mood, and improving blood glucose level.
More than 70% took Nichi Glucan for the prevention of diseases and maintaining overall health, 21% took to relieve constipation, and others took for beauty reasons.
Nichi Glucan contains 42 mg of BRMG in one sachet (1 g granules). The tasteless and odourless granules can be consumed alone or by mixing with any liquids (water, juice), which turns into a gel-like texture.
GN Corporation alongside other research institutes have published several papers on the potential of Nichi Glucan as an adjunct treatment for COVID-19 patients.
In a paper published in Frontiers in Immunology, consumption of beta 1,3-1,6 glucan may support the body’s defence mechanisms against vital infections such as IL-8, sFAS macrophage activity, and NK cells' cytotoxicity.
Since co-morbidities such as diabetes have been reported to increase mortality in COVID-19 patients, it was key to manage blood sugar levels.
In another research published in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders, BRMG was proven to control blood sugar levels in human subjects and also has potential in enhancing and regulating the immune parameters in relevance to COVID-19.
GN Corporation has also submitted a research titled Beta-glucan - Wide-spectrum Immune-balancing Food-supplement-based Enteric (β-WIFE) Vaccine Adjuvant Approach to COVID-19 which has been accepted for publication in the journal of Human vaccines and immunotherapeutics and will be available online soon.
Discussions are also underway for a Nichi Glucan clinical trial in Panama.
“In Panama, we are planning a study in one of the hospitals on which Professor Kosagi-Sharaf Rao who is director at Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Servicios de Alta Tecnología (INDICASAT AIP), is coordinating the formalities to start the study,” Abraham said.