Public Summary

Principal investigator: Professor Jun Lu, Auckland University of Technology
Industry partners: Beyond Capital MedTech Management Ltd, University of Auckland, National University of Singapore
High-Value Nutrition funding: $469,883

Mussel with fucoidan as supplemented superfood – product development and clinical benefits

The Greenshell™ mussel (GSM) Perna canaliculus is an iconic Aotearoa New Zealand seafood product that is highly valued by consumers in New Zealand and overseas for its:

  • unique flavour
  • visual appeal
  • anti-inflammatory properties.This project aims to develop a new GSM product supplemented with Fucoidan, a sulphated polysaccharide extracted from Undaria pinnatifida that contains bioactive compounds that have the potential to confer metabolic health benefits.

Undaria pinnatifida – otherwise known as Wakameis a species of kelp that is native to Japan and forms a core part of the Japanese diet.  In Aotearoa New Zealand Undaria pinnatifida is classified as an ‘unwanted organism’ under the Biosecurity Act 1993 and as a pest in many regional pest management strategies due to its ability to grow invasively on any hard surface, including GSM mussel lines.

The project will develop a new GSM-Fucoidan food product and conduct a clinical study on a Chinese population living in Aotearoa New Zealand.  This study looks to scientifically validate GSM’s health benefits relating to:

  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • immune stimulation
  • glycaemic control in people with pre-diabetes or experiencing joint pain.
    China is a major export market for GSM and the results from this study will provide the evidence needed to differentiate the product in the crowded Chinese market based on its established health benefits.

This project seeks to further elevate the status of GSM as a high-value food product for export and to support the development of a new Fucoidan industry in Aotearoa New Zealand by transforming what is currently a waste product into a high-value food with health benefits.

The project is delivered in partnership with Beyond Capital MedTech Management Ltd which has co-funded the research and will produce the functional food product needed for the clinical study.  The research team is led by Professor Jun Lu and consists of a biomedical scientist, a clinical endocrinologist, a biostatistician, a physiotherapist, a rehabilitation health specialist from AUT University and the University of Auckland, and an overseas food science expert from the National University of Singapore.

Research Team

Professor Jun Lu

Jun Lu has PhD and MSc degrees from the University of Auckland and a BSc degree from East China Normal University. He joined Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in 2009 and established the Biomedical Science major.

Jun specialises in pharmacology, natural bioactive compounds/products, nutrition, metabolic diseases, cancer, and food science. He currently works at the School of Science and School of Public Health and Interdisciplinary Studies. He is also a management team member of the Institute of Biomedical Technology.