Marine-Derived Nutraceuticals and Cosmetics February 2014
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The fishing industry is notoriously wasteful: Filleting a fish requires the removal of the head, viscera, and bones, resulting in only about half of each fish going on to become food. The removed parts are often discarded as waste; for example, the fishing industry in Norway generated 250 000 tonnes of postprocessing fish waste in 2012. This level of wastefulness is creating a need for the fishing industry to develop ways to use the discarded fish parts and so make the industry more environmentally friendly and more profitable. The Marmed project—which the Atlantic Area Transnational Programme ran between 2007 and 2013—consisted of ten institutions in five European countries working together with the aim of adding value to the by-products of the fishing industry. One area of focus was the development of processes for extracting biomolecules and biopolymers for use in biomedicine. The project also sought to identify potential substances for use as nutraceutical products. For example, Marmed research found that protein hydrolysates from Cape hake by-products have functional and antioxidative properties. The research developed a number of ways of extracting the protein hydrolysates, which could find use as dietary supplements or natural additives to food. SECUREFISH is an ongoing European Union—funded project; part of the project involves developing value-added products—such as bioactive peptides that have potential pharmaceutical applications—from fish waste. These projects have demonstrated methods of extracting numerous molecules from marine sources. Many of these molecules have biocatalytic properties that have potential for use in a number of applications. Some companies are already developing and selling products with such molecules. Additionally, biocatalysis finds use in the process of extracting these molecules from marine flora and fauna.
Following on from the work of the Norwegian Institute of Fishery Science, Norwegian company Marealis is developing a marine-derived dietary supplement that reduces blood pressure. Scientists at Marealis extract the product by controlled enzymatic hydrolysis of shells of Arctic cold-water shrimp, or Pandalus borealis. They then convert the resulting hydrolysate into a peptide concentrate product they call "Tensiotin." The peptide concentrate inhibits the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). In the body, ACE converts angiotensin I to angiotensin II, which causes blood vessels to constrict and, consequently, blood pressure to rise. Many people who suffer from high blood pressure use ACE inhibitors, such as captopril, which scientists originally derived from a peptide in the venom of a lancehead viper. Marealis reports that a clinical pilot study it undertook in 2012 found that Tensiotin reduced blood pressure to the same degree as did the ACE-inhibiting drugs. The company is currently carrying out a full-scale clinical trial and is planning to launch Tensiotin later in 2014.
Marealis is marketing the product as a dietary supplement or food additive specifically for adults with prehypertension—or elevated blood pressure. Prehypertension may increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, more than 50 million people in the United States have prehypertension. Prehypertension is associated with—among other factors—people who are overweight. Given the ever-increasing number of overweight people in developed countries—and the increasing public consciousness of weight-related health issues—Marealis has chosen a large market in which to sell its product. Additionally, shrimp shells will be a fairly low-cost resource because the food-preparation process involves their removal from the edible flesh.
This increasing health awareness is driving the growth in the nutraceuticals market. According to Frost & Sullivan, the global nutraceuticals market in 2010 was worth $140.1 billion, with the United States and Europe constituting a 61% combined share of the market. A report by Global Information Inc. in 2012 predicted the global market to reach $250 billion by 2018. Nutraceuticals that derive from natural and environmentally friendly sources will likely garner more demand from health-conscious consumers.
Companies are also seeking to turn fishing industry by-products into high-end cosmetics ingredients. Norway-based Regenics markets LEX, an active cosmetic ingredient that derives from salmon eggs. The extract contains vitamins, fatty acids, proteins, peptides, minerals, and free amino acids. Researchers at the company performed a clinical study in 2013 to determine the efficacy of the extract. According to Regenics, LEX's contents contribute in different ways to reducing wrinkles by 32%, prompting an increase in collagen production of 350%, and reducing skin redness by 21%, among other benefits. Additionally, the extract contains a number of skin-penetration enhancers that enable the other ingredients to access cells at deeper layers of the skin. According to Regenics, the salmon eggs are a readily available source, because they are in abundance in sustainable salmon fish farms. Regenics mechanically extracts LEX from the eggs, so the manufacturing process is probably quite low in cost. Regenics is also developing a wound-healing product using extracts from salmon eggs.
Viability of the Industry
Developing methods to use marine waste products has a number of advantages: It makes the fishing industry more efficient and environmentally friendly, it generates extra income to the industry, and it provides a cheap source of raw materials that can find use in a range of applications. However, the size of the industry using waste material from the fishing industry is limited by the amount of marine waste. Overfishing of the oceans has been an issue for over a century, and some fish species nearly hit extinction in the mid-1900s. According to the World Bank, overfishing has overexploited or depleted about a third of the ocean's fish populations, and it continues to be a problem today. As a result, many countries have implemented fishing regulations—such as catch quotas—that limit the number of marine animals the fishing industry can catch. The limited number of fish restricts the amount of potentially useful waste, which constrains the growth of the fishing by-products industry. Furthermore, illegal fishing and poorly enforced regulations could mean that some marine fauna are fished to or near extinction, which increases the price of fishing by-products and may reduce the longevity and viability of the industry. In summary, much of the fishing by-products industry is likely ever to be only small, although fish farming will continue to be a major source.
The alternative is marine-inspired biomolecules. For example, the research into the extraction of useful products from Arctic cold-water shrimp shells has also led to the development of shrimp-alkaline phosphatase—a hydrolase enzyme that can remove phosphate groups from, for example, proteins and nucleotides. Alkaline phosphatase is useful in biological research, such as in the removal of nucleotides in cleaning equipment after running polymerase chain reactions. The Arctic origin of the shrimp-derived enzyme results in the enzyme's denaturing after five minutes at the relatively low temperature of 65°C, which enables users to inactivate the enzyme with relative ease. Shrimp alkaline phosphatase has been available since the 1990s but is now often in manufacture by means of recombinant DNA in a host organism such as yeast, which has enabled scientists to manipulate the characteristics of the resultant enzyme to suit their purposes better. Other marine enzymes could inspire the development of synthetic versions that negate the dependency of the industry on quantities of fish dictated by regulations and quotas. Therefore, the fishing industry provides possibilities for both low-cost marine-derived biomolecules on a small scale and improved marine-inspired biomolecules on a larger scale.