Shrimps from pure Arctic seas are desirable delicacies. The latest news is that the by-products from the Arctic coldwater shrimp – several thousand tonnes of shrimp shells – are being turned into a dietary supplement to combat elevated blood pressure.
The long-lasting cooperation between Nofima research and Norway’s largest shrimp industry company Stella Polaris/Marealis is producing new and sensational results.
“In a clinical trial, small proteins (peptides) in the shrimp shell hydrolysate have shown some of the highest bioactivity that has been reported in this area,” says the CEO of Marealis AS, Jaran Rauø.
“This means we have a product that works better than any other product against hypertension or elevated blood pressure. This will result in the creation of new jobs at Stella Polaris and subsidiary company Marealis and a by-production that has the potential to generate an income of several hundred million NOK per year.”
In the form of a tablet or capsule, the refined peptide concentrate has a potential kilo price to the end user of NOK 5000. The product, which has the registered trademark Tensiotin®, will be sold and marketed with a publicly approved health claim connected to healthy blood pressure.
Prevents heart disease
“Elevated blood pressure is the main cause of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is in turn the dominating cause of death globally and as an anti-hypertensive the dietary supplement can potentially improve the health of 700,000 people per year. The product has been tested on animals and humans with extremely good results and a full-scale clinical study is imminent,” says Mr Rauø.
Inspired by Jens P. Heyerdahl
“It was Jens P. Heyerdahl, one of the owners of Stella Polaris, who challenged the company to concentrate more on demanding research and development. Heyerdahl often referred to Borregaard, the world’s most advanced biorefinery, and which produces vanillin and lignin (concrete reinforcement) as a by-production from the logs. Heyerdahl has had a major significance as a motivator for the establishment of Marealis AS,” says Mr Rauø.
“Since this, the owners and board of Stella Polaris have displayed a dedicated willingness towards new thinking and demanding innovation, and the connection with Nofima and the research that is performed there has produced a collaboration that has resulted in a high value product from a residual fraction that has had a low degree of utilisation.”
20 years’ research
Senior Scientist Asbjørn Gildberg at the food research institute Nofima says it is the long-term and interdisciplinary nature of the research that has produced the results. In 1997 he participated in an EU-financed project involving scientists from France, among other places, which made a significant contribution towards establishing the sensational antihypertensive effect in the shrimp hydrolysate from Nofima in Tromsø. The result was published in 2002 and was picked up by Stella Polaris in 2007on the basis of a news bulletin from Nofima.
“Even Stenberg had already paved the way. In the early 1990s he started to collaborate with the Germany company Henkel (Bio-Henk) on the production of skin lotion based on chitosan production from shrimp shell. Chitosan is also used in contact lenses and biodegradable packaging material, amongst other things,” says Mr Gildberg.
“Through production of peptide concentrate, we use the meat in the shrimp shell. The deprotenized shell can then go directly into the production of chitin and chitosan. In this way, we avoid the job of removing the protein in the shell fraction in caustic soda.”
Entire shrimp utilized
He ventures to assert that shrimps in Troms will be 100 per cent utilised, in fact for high cost products:
1) Firstly, we peel the shrimp and eat the main product,
2) then we take the shell and separate out the protein using natural enzymes and recover the dietary supplement.
3) When the protein has been recovered, the remainder of the shrimp shell and heads are used for chitosan production.
3) “All that is left is a bit of dust for the sea gulls,” says Mr Gildberg.
But the dust being left for the sea gulls will only last for a short period. In the longer term, Stella Polaris/Marealis plans to extract that parts of the raw material that currently disappear with the process water during the production of peeled shrimps.
Fishing industry of the future
The first market Marealis is aiming at is USA, and last autumn Mr Rauø participated in Supply Side West, the world’s largest trade fair for dietary supplements, in Las Vegas.
“Our product received extremely positive feedback, not least because of the scientific work that has been done. ‘This is music to my ears,’ said one of the potential partners for Marealis in USA. The Americans are also interested in the fact that the product has a good history. The utilization of marine by-products and the product’s origin in Arctic marine waters provide an advantageous background for marketing and sale of the dietary supplement in USA,” says Mr Rauø.