Ragnhild Dragøy Whitaker, Head of research, can afford to smile after Nofima’s pilot factory Biotep outside Tromsø has produced a dietary supplement from shrimp shells that has blood pressure lowering effects. What happened in the lab was reproducible in full-scale production. Sven Aarøen, Head of operations, with his back to the camera. Photo: Lars Åke Andersen at Nofima

Canada approves the health effects of shrimp shells

Research on shrimp shells carried out by Nofima more than 10 years ago can now be a commercial success. The Marealis company carried out a large-scale trial production at Nofima’s pilot factory Biotep, with very promising effects. The blood pressure lowering supplement will soon be launched in Canada.

This article was last updated more than two years ago.

Canadian health authorities (Health Canada) are the first in the world to approve the positive effects of the peptides in shrimp shells.   Several clinical trials indicate blood pressure lowering effects along with beneficial effects on the heart. With approval in Canada, Marealis is starting the production of the dietary supplement ProCardix.

Ten years ago, Nofima researcher Asbjørn Gildberg published a scientific report on the positive health effects of peptides, a chain of amino acids that are found in shrimp shells. Marealis was very interested in the research results. Their largest owner is Stella Polaris, which runs a large shrimp factory. Shrimp shells have until now been discarded, and to exploit the high value available, they want to make a dietary supplement of the residue.

Important approval

“In the past, almost anything could be said when advertising for supplements without having to document claims. In 2012, in both Norway and the EU, it became required that public authorities approve the health claims linked to a product before these are allowed to be used in marketing.  Similar regulations have existed in North America and Japan for a long time A health claim that is publicly approved requires clinical scientific evidence. We have achieved this with the help of research environments in Canada, Finland, the USA, Germany and the Czech Republic. “Documentation is the basis on which the health authorities in Canada have now approved the product with a health claim linked to a blood pressure reducing effect,” says Jaran Rauø, Head of R&D.

Marealis is waiting for US authorities (FDA) as well as Norwegian and European authorities, to follow Canada’s example so that it will be possible to market ProCardix in more countries. In Norway alone, some 870,000 people use blood pressure reducing medicine. It is seldom given to those under 50 years of age, ergo it is a very usual condition for those who are beginning to be somewhat older. ProCardix can help prevent the development of high blood pressure.

Research works

The story of Marealis is the story of how research and research results, painstaking efforts and courageous investments can benefit society by contributing to better public health with the use of residues from shrimp production.

Biotep, an industrial up-scaling facility established outside Tromsø, has been decisive in taking the product from the laboratory to the market.

“Without access to the Biotep facility it would have taken even more time and effort to develop the product. Now, we are ready to sell a new product the like of which is not to be found anywhere in the world!” says Jaran Rauø.

“Of course, we are happy that our research has been able to be directly implemented by Norwegian business. Our research should always be implementable and as Director, I am proud when I hear of such results. The impressive job that Marealis has done shows how demanding it can be to get a product from the research laboratory out to the market,” says Øyvind Fylling-Jensen in Nofima.

 Marine biotechnology  

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