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Breakthrough research: seaweed extract combats inflammatory bowel disorder

HOBART, Australia – Breakthrough research published for the first time today has confirmed the potential for a unique seaweed extract to combat inflammatory bowel disorders.

Researchers from the Faculty of Health at the University of Tasmania have shown that the oral administration of fucoidan – a polysaccharide extracted from the Fucus vesiculosus species of seaweed – significantly reduces the symptoms and pathology of inflammatory bowel disorders, in an animal model.

The unique, certified organic fucoidan compounds tested in the study were developed and produced by Australian biotechnology company, Marinova Pty Ltd. 

Inflammatory bowel disorders such as ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and lead to a significantly decreased quality of life. They are also an important cause of morbidity. Current treatments for ulcerative colitis are often costly and may have limited efficacy. They may also be associated with adverse effects, which highlights the need for new treatment options. This research paper describes the therapeutic potential for two Maritech® fucoidan extracts in a mouse model of acute colitis.

The oral administration of the fucoidan not only alleviated the macroscopic pathologies such as bodyweight and stool consistency but also significantly reduced underlying intestinal inflammation. Cumulative histological disease scores for the distal colon were reduced by up to 36.3% by fucoidan extracts. Weight loss – a common and often undesirable side effect of colitis – was reduced by more than 50%. Although previous reports have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activities of fucoidan in different experimental models, this is the first study to demonstrate that a commercially available fucoidan can be highly effective in ameliorating experimental colitis through the down-regulation of pro-inflammatory mediators.

Associate Professor in Pharmacological Sciences at the University of Tasmania, Nuri Guven, explains the importance of these findings: “This study extends our current understanding of oral administration of fucoidan extracts during acute colitis, which is a crucial step towards its use as a mainstream treatment of colitis in humans. To show that fucoidan can reduce inflammation and retain epithelial integrity is extremely encouraging. Coupled with the possibility of oral delivery, these findings certainly justify further investigations into fucoidan as a therapeutic alternative for patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disorders”.

Chief Scientist at Marinova, Dr Helen Fitton, foreshadows a rapidly growing need for new natural therapies to address the increasing incidence of ulcerative colitis. “The dietary changes that have occurred over the past several decades are now manifesting in a range of poor health outcomes. What is particularly concerning about this new wave of adverse health outcomes is the prevalence of gastrointestinal and bowel disorders. To have identified a natural and safe extract with potential to alleviate these types of disorders is very exciting indeed”.

Based on the results of this study, Marinova has extended its collaborative research arrangements with the University of Tasmania and will be sponsoring further studies in the area of gut health over the next 2 years.

Entitled Fucoidan Extracts Ameliorate Acute Colitis, the research has been published in the respected international journal PLOS ONE. The full publication can be accessed here: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128453.

About Marinova Pty Ltd

Marinova Pty Ltd is a progressive Australian biotechnology company dedicated to the development e of high purity seaweed extracts for the betterment of human health. The company specializes in the research, development and manufacture of fucoidan compounds for use in nutritional, medical and dermatological applications.

Marinova is recognized globally for its commitment to innovation and the quality of its Maritech® branded fucoidan extracts. The company is a cGMP, ISO9001 and HACCP accredited manufacturer and – as the only producer of certified organic, high-purity fucoidan – is the preferred supplier to world-renowned research institutions and leading nutraceutical and pharmaceutical companies.

For further information on this research, please contact:

Dr Helen Fitton

Chief Scientist
Marinova Pty Ltd
Phone: +61 3 6248 5800
helen.fitton@marinova.com.au

Associate Professor Nuri Güven

Senior Research Fellow, Pharmacy
School of Medicine, University of Tasmania
Phone: +61 3 6226 1715
nuri.guven@utas.edu.au

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