Ārepa Nootropic Powder

Public Summary

Principal Investigators: Dr Kerry Bentley-Hewitt and Angus Brown
Industry partners: Ārepa
High-Value Nutrition funding: $1,564,261


Boosting immune responses and cognitive support with Ārepa Nootropic Powder

The importance of good nutrition in supporting immune function is well recognised.  We have demonstrated in in vitro, animal, and clinical studies that blackcurrant consumption modulates innate and adaptive immune responses against a number of different environmental stresses. These data indicate that blackcurrant as a nutritional support for immune performance, may also reduce opportunistic infection risk during periods of increased physical stress. Alongside this, clinical studies conducted at Plant & Food Research (PFR) have reported improved cognitive function in adults after consuming anthocyanin-rich blackcurrant juice which was associated with modulation of key neurotransmitters supporting a mechanism by which blackcurrant consumption improves cognition.

Further research that elucidates the unique properties of specific blackcurrant varieties that support immune and cognitive function will enable the development of premium functional food products.

This programme aims to deliver robust scientific evidence that can underpin marketing, health claims, and the development of novel food formats that deliver optimal bioactivity.

The project will conduct two human clinical studies investigating the efficacy of freeze-dried ‘Blackadder’ blackcurrants on immune and cognitive function in healthy, older adults.

Clinical Trial 1 will determine if long-term blackcurrant consumption can improve immune responses to the influenza vaccine.

Clinical Trial 2 will investigate the effects of acute and long-term blackcurrant consumption on cognitive function while performing tasks designed to induce cognitive fatigue.

Targeted, and semi-targeted, metabolomics methodologies will be used to identify novel blackcurrant bioactives and their nutrikinetics to identify potential mechanisms of action.

The multidisciplinary research team have the combined capability and expertise in conducting clinical trials investigating complex food-health interactions in immune, cognitive, and exercise performance, and measuring the underpinning biological mechanisms that drive these effects. This programme is in collaboration with AlphaGen NZ, an innovate SME that currently markets blackcurrant-based nootropic functional food products under their Arepa brand, Plant & Food Research Ltd (PFR), and the University of North Carolina.

This programme aligns with the HVN Mission and Strategy to “develop high-value foods with validated health benefits to drive economic growth”, particularly focusing on clinical application and biomarkers. Together, PFR and AlphaGen will develop a functional food aimed at a significant population demographic that have interest in products that support increased immune and cognitive function.

This relationships supports HVN’s outcome activity to grow NZ collaborations across institutions, businesses and governmental networks. This project supports strategic vision of “growing New Zealand food and beverage export revenue through international leadership in the science of food and health relationships”.

Research Team

Dr Kerry Bentley-Hewitt

Dr Kerry Bentley-Hewitt’s research focuses on understanding immune function and how dietary interventions may improve immune function and reverse immune dysfunction.

Angus Brown

Angus Brown is the CEO and co-founder of Ārepa, a brain-food technology company working at the nexus between nature, neuroscience and food technology to make the worlds smartest food, his goal is to build a world-leading billion-dollar health food company out of Aotearoa New Zealand exporting high-value, clinically validated functional brain food.

Before Ārepa, Angus was the Business Manager at The FoodBowl, helping large and small companies alike develop and launch new products to market.