Dr Helen Fitton, Chief Scientist at Australia-based Marinova, has provided an update on the state of research and application of fucoidan – the unique marine ingredient that naturally occurs in brown seaweed – in the form of a published review.
"Since our last review in 2015, studies of fucoidan have progressed in a variety of research areas. Fucoidan compounds are highly bioactive and continue to be developed and utilised for dietary supplements," said Fitton.
She explained that the ingredient is also in demand for gut health, immune modulation and anti-inflammatory applications for both humans and animals.
"We anticipate these applications are likely to increase in the future due to recent regulatory approvals in the US and EU," she added.
Dr Fitton explained that therapies for neurological disease, bacterial and viral infections, and oncology appear to be the next commercial opportunities.
"Microbiome modulation and anti-pathogenic effects are increasingly promising applications for fucoidans, due to the need for alternative approaches to antibiotic use in the food chain," it stated in the review.
Image as seen on Marinova website showing production of fucoidan
Orally bioavailable adjunct therapies for these neurological disease, bacterial and viral infections, and oncology applications appear to be now progressing into the clinical trial phase.
Fucoidans also have untapped potential as part of drug delivery systems and devices, and they show particular near-market promise in imaging and treatments for thrombosis.
"Safety studies on radiolabelled fucoidan have been carried out with a view to regulatory approval for clinical imaging applications. Subject to regulatory approvals, fucoidans could be used in the near future," the review concluded.
The full paper titled 'Therapies from Fucoidan: New developments', in Marine Drugs can be accessed at www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/17/10/571
As a treatment for renal diseases is another of fucoidan's many applications. The new review summarises the recent use of fucoidan to treat renal disease and the increased use of fucoidan in commercially available supplements and topical treatments.
"These recent research developments are outlined in detail in the paper, along with exciting progress in clinical trial outcomes," Fitton said.
"There is certainly growing interest in fucoidan," said Fitton. "It is an innovative marine ingredient and ongoing research continues to reveal the extraordinary health benefits that it has to offer. The extent and breadth of the credible science supporting fucoidan continues to expand."