Soothing seaweed: Fucoidan extracts found to reduce gut inflammation


05 Nov 2018 --- Maritech fucoidan – a bioactive compound extracted from seaweed – can inhibit the production of key pro-inflammatory biomarkers that are clinically relevant in acute and chronic gut condition, new research has found. Maritech fucoidan ingredients are extracted from wild Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus macroalgae by Australian biotechnology company Marinova.

When tested in ex-vivo human blood and compared to controls, results showed that fucoidan inhibited the release of three inflammatory mediators; TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6.

TNF-α and IL-1β are drivers of major inflammatory processes. Prolonged and raised levels are linked to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which affects 10 million people worldwide and includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Blocking these chemical messengers can result in a rapid and sustained reduction in disease severity. Maritech fucoidan was found to reduce TNF-α levels by more than 70 percent and IL-1β by more than 54 percent.

The pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 also plays a central role in uncontrolled intestinal inflammation. It can alter the balance between pro-inflammatory and immunosuppressive immune cells, and has been associated with IBD and colon cancer. In the study, Maritech fucoidan inhibited the production of IL-6 by more than 43 percent.

“It’s truly exciting that a naturally-derived marine ingredient has demonstrated such profound anti-inflammatory benefits with great potential to improve gut and digestive health,” says Dr. Helen Fitton, Chief Scientist at Marinova, commenting on the significance of the research.

“Fucoidan has long been valued for its ability to address both local and systemic inflammation. This activity is ascribed to its biological role in protecting the seaweed plant from inflammation, caused by UV light and pathogens.”

The study is part of Marinova’s gut and digestive health research program. It builds on a series of in vitro and animal models, in which Maritech fucoidan reportedly inhibited key inflammatory enzymes expressed in the gastrointestinal tract and reduced the clinical symptoms and pathology of ulcerative colitis.

“Our fucoidan ingredients already feature in a large number of products targeting gut health. In fact, gut health is a key growing indication for Marinova, given the comprehensive research that supports this application,” Claire Smoorenburg, Marketing & Communications Officer at Marinova, tells NutritionInsight.

“Following on from these research results, Marinova is embarking on a clinical trial in the human microbiome. This is part of the company’s diverse pipeline of R&D planned in gut and digestive health, in addition to our pillar research areas of immune modulation and integrative oncology,” she adds.

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