HVN is continuing its partnership with Sanford through the funding of a third research project into the benefits of Greenshell™ mussels (GSM). This latest project led by Professor Marlena Kruger from Massey University will examine the role of GSM in assisting a significant part of the Aotearoa New Zealand population who are healthy, but living with early stages of osteoarthritis.

GSM is New Zealand’s leading aquaculture species, but is undervalued. This HVN project funding is for $350,000 over 24 months and will add value to GSM food products by adding to evidence of two previous HVN GSM projects. (https://bit.ly/37D0V47 and https://bit.ly/2TcSDre) The first of these provided evidence in pre-clinical models of the ability of GSM to have protective effects against cartilage damage. The second study aims to evaluate this in healthy individuals. The latest research being announced will evaluate effects among those with early signs of osteoarthritis.

Collectively this research could inform the consideration of health claims not only for osteoarthritis symptoms like functionality and pain, but also for physiological signs of osteoarthritis such as cartilage breakdown. It will also contribute to the understanding of the mechanism causing recession of symptoms such as inflammation and cartilage degradation.

An estimated 18 per cent of women and 9.6 per cent of men worldwide have symptomatic osteoarthritis, making it the leading cause of disability in older adults. Progress and presentation of the disease can vary among individuals, but there is a common pathway of joint structure pathogenesis suggesting the possibility of a common treatment in the early stages of the disease.

The research team will build on the successful collaboration between industry and leading New Zealand scientists established previously. The team will incorporate the expertise of scientists from Massey University, the Cawthron Institute, with the support of Sanford, bringing together experts in bone and joint health and nutrition.

Sanford Limited is New Zealand’s largest GSM producer, generating over 35 per cent of the country’s output, and is actively working to improve all aspects of GSM breeding, production, processing and food innovation.

In addition the overall programmes of work seek to bring together knowledge holders of different iwi and hapū to explore and record traditional health uses and applications for Kūku/Kūtai, which will provide greater insight into traditional practices that have led to consumption of GSM for these particular health outcomes.

“Regular consumption of GSM may be a simple way to reduce inflammation and protect cartilage in joints,” says Professor Marlena Kruger. “This study will produce clinical evidence demonstrating the impacts of consuming New Zealand GSM in combatting early stages of osteoarthritis. Results of the study will increase our understanding of the cause of osteoarthritis, while taking another step towards clinically validated health claims for New Zealand GSM foods,” she says.

”The importance of this research will round out previous years of investigations, with the potential for new health claims that will lead to all GSM processors being able to utilise the results of research and increase the value of their products,” says Joanne Todd, Director of the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge.

The HVN Challenge is a mission-led programme of innovative research into the health and wellbeing attributes of New Zealand produced foods for our major export markets. The Challenge will over the next five years fund a number of projects through a competitive contestable funding process, and has recently approved other contestable funding projects that will be completed together with business partners. The HVN Contestable Fund Request for Proposals remains open for applications. Read more here: https://www.highvaluenutrition.co.nz/funding-opportunities/rfpdocuments/.