Massey research shows new ways to improve gut health

Thursday 27 September 2018

Massey University research is finding ways to help people better look after their digestive health.

Massey research shows new ways to improve gut health - image1

Finding ways to improve digestive health.

Last updated: Thursday 25 August 2022

Massey University research is finding ways to help people better look after their digestive health.

The Alpha-Massey Natural Nutraceutical Research Centre, a partnership between Massey and the Alpha Group, has produced a technology to improve the shelf-life of probiotics and is investigating the potential benefits of immunoglobulins - proteins which may be able to improve gut health when taken orally.

The probiotic technology, called ProbioLife, allows certain probiotics to be stored at room temperature.

Centre science director Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan says keeping probiotics at the right temperature is vital.

“Current probiotics generally require refrigeration from the factory to the fridge of the consumer. This causes logistical challenges when they are being transported, and stored.

“Finding a way to allow probiotics to still be effective at room temperature, solves this issue for both producers and consumers,” he says.

ProbioLife achieves this by encapsulating the helpful bacteria in a new way, which has been shown to work with a range of common probiotic bacteria, more effectively than when compared to other systems.

Immunity-boosting protein

The other innovation underway is a possible immunity-boosting protein.

Professor Moughan says the research into immunoglobulins, which has since gained international recognition, has provided significant innovation.

“Immunoglobulins have a prophylactic role against the development of diarrhoea and other digestive upsets, and also increase the secretion of mucus in the gut, increasing the barrier defence of the digestive tract. Dr Prabhu Balan extracted and purified immunoglobulins and has been able to show they are active in the gastrointestinal tract of model animal systems, and then proved their efficacy and ability to fight gut pathogens.

“They also had a prebiotic effect in model animal systems, in that they enhanced the growth of beneficial bacteria. This makes it harder for pathogenic bacteria to enter the body, as well as having a whole myriad of immune-enhancing effects,” Professor Moughan says.

The research centre will now investigate the commercial applications of both these areas of research.

About the Alpha-Massey University Nutraceuticals Research Centre

Established in 2016, the Centre is a partnership between Massey University and Alpha Group Holdings, a multi-national supplement company with a New Zealand base, to undertake high-quality scientific research into plant, fungi and animal extracts that could support our health and wellbeing. 

Alpha Group Holdings Limited fund the Centre to undertake high quality research to identify novel extracts and to substantiate the biological functions needed for their future commercialisation.