A neuroscientist’s research into recovery from brain injuries has brought new hope for families of those suffering from stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease.
It is also set to provide a multimillion-dollar boost to New Zealand horticultural exports.
Dr Jian Guan led an Auckland University study with Otago University which discovered that New Zealand blackcurrants contain elevated levels of cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP), a key brain nutrient that normalises a hormone essential for overall body health, which has led to development of a new export market.
A distribution deal between cGP MAX, an Auckland-based company established to commercialise the discovery, and a major food ingredients distributor in China see the export of more than 10 tonnes of raw ingredients delivering cGP – over the course of the next three years.
With 14 international patents to her name, Dr Guan’s research has focused on the role of IGF-1 and the impact of cGP in retaining cognitive brain function as we age, along with treating neurological
conditions associated with reduced blood circulation which is common in strokes.
“My studies into cGP look at the role this naturally derived compound has in contributing to improved health outcomes for those suffering from a number of age-related neurological diseases.
“I have been looking at how a clinical application of cGP can be used to treat diseases commonly associated with poor brain vessel function such as stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease,” she says.
Dr Guan says healthy brains are able to continually produce new blood vessels to replace the loss of capillaries (smaller blood vessels) but this diminishes with age.
“When we age the capillary nets which deliver nutrients and oxygen to brain cells are fewer and the brain cells which are undernourished do not function as well and build up toxins, which means the brain cells die off slowly
causing brain degeneration.
“Taking cGP can assist in the body’s ability to make more blood vessels and improve circulation in the brain. I believe that if we gradually increase the levels of cGP in our blood as we age, we can help keep cognitive functions normal”.
Having first developed New Zealand as a test market cGP Max has recently started exporting the new brain health supplement to other countries including the United States, UK, Spain, Singapore and Australia.
EastLife - March 2022 by Times Media - Issuu