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Marine molecules in the spotlight

01 Oct, 2008

Source: Crop & Food Research Digest, Spring 2008

An international team of marine chemists and biochemists are working on a five-year project to develop new health-promoting marine oils and protein ingredients.

Scientists will work with partners in New Zealand’s nutraceutical, food and cosmetic ingredient industries to ensure the new products meet commercial requirements and can be transferred directly to factory production, industrial biochemist Dr Sue Marshall says.

Examples of marine-derived molecules that are currently used include cosmetic collagens with moisturising and anti-ageing properties, omega-3 concentrates and glycosaminoglycans for cosmetics and anti-arthritic applications.

The focus will be on using enzymes rather than chemical processes, as these natural catalysts are more specific, less polluting and more energy efficient.

“This programme offers the opportunity for New Zealand to assume technical and product leadership in the areas of functional marine molecules,” Dr Marshall says.

She adds that the ultimate challenge for the programme is to use scientific understanding of marine molecules to modify them in new ways, while delivering practical and economical processes that can be used in real factories.

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