Unlocking the power in the sea
Unlocking the health benefits of New Zealand's seafood and other marine organisms is the focus of a new research collaboration between New Zealand and Japanese scientists.
The research by Cawthron Institute and Japan's Hokkaido University and National Research Institute of Fisheries Science aims to better understand the link between food, obesity and diabetes.
The team will begin by investigating the natural properties of the iconic New Zealand Greenshell™ mussel, pāua, and several species of seaweed and algae.
"The first step is to determine if the foods have any effect on the diseases. If they do, then we'll attempt to identify and isolate the cause for those effects, and then see if we can influence the levels of those components in raw foods, or replicate them artificially in the lab," Cawthron analytical chemist and project leader, Dr Paul McNabb, says.
"We're not suggesting that food is the cure for these diseases, but foods can affect the body's response to disease – and we want to find out how and why this happens."
The collaboration combines Cawthron's scientific, biological and analytical capability in New Zealand marine species with Japan's world-leading expertise in human diseases and nutrition. It builds on 20 years of research between Cawthron and Japanese scientists looking at natural toxins in shellfish, and also complements Cawthron's existing research (with Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and the University of Otago) into health promoting properties from Greenshell™ mussels and algae.
The collaboration is one of three national research projects announced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to promote research collaborations between New Zealand and Japan. MBIE is investing up to $400,000 in each project over two years.
"This government investment will allow us to accelerate food research at Cawthron and also strengthen existing partnerships with Japan and increase knowledge," Dr McNabb says.
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