Plant & Food Research have received $651,553 over 2.5 years for new research investigating whether BerriQi® – a Boysenberry and apple product from Anagenix Ltd – can repair damage to lungs caused by air pollution, a significant threat to human lung health in large cities. This research is being funded through the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge.

Ultra fine particles, produced from many types of combustion, including motor vehicles, residential wood-burning fires, forest fires and some industrial processes, cause air pollution. These tiny particles can become lodged in the lungs, causing irritation and inflammation. Eventually the lung tissue becomes scarred from the continued inflammation, and cannot inflate as easily as they should, causing breathlessness and tiredness.

“As the respiratory immune system can protect the body against damage caused by inhalation of particulate matter, the identification of food solutions that offer respiratory immune support is a key target of High-Value Nutrition’s (HVN) Immune Health Research Programme,” says Joanne Todd, HVN Director.

The Plant & Food Research team will collaborate with the University of Otago, Wellington to run clinical trials using their Global Energetics and Environmental Simulation Suite at the Centre for Translational Physiology.

“Through the evaluation of a range of fruits in a number of pre-clinical models, we have identified that the BerriQi® combination of Boysenberry and apple can help reduce inflammation in the airways, support tissue repair and reduce lung fibrosis,” says lead researcher Dr Odette Shaw, Plant & Food Research. “This research will allow us to run clinical trials to determine whether this effect is seen in humans.”

This leading-edge HVN-funded research provides an opportunity to provide scientific validation that supports the marketing of a product made from these Aotearoa New Zealand-grown fruit. BerriQi® was developed by Plant & Food Research and Anagenix Ltd, who have co-invested in ongoing research and development of BerriQi® as a product to protect against pollution-induced lung damage in humans.
The research will expand on current understanding of BerriQi®’s beneficial health effects with the objective of increasing export revenue for New Zealand through the Asian market.

This project builds on previous capability developed through the HVN Immune Health programme, which is establishing a platform of techniques that can be used to validate the benefits of New Zealand food and beverage products.

The HVN Challenge is a mission-led programme of innovative research into the health attributes of New Zealand produced foods for our major export markets. The Challenge will, over the next four 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.