This week Down Under

Start-up’s superfood extract proves effective in killing superbug

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Start-up’s superfood extract proves effective in killing superbug

Related tags Obesity

An Australian start-up has developed the world's first healthcare range which uses a superfood to fight a superbug.

Kayan hopes to market its range of topical lotions and washes made from organic flaxseed oil to kill golden staph (Staphylococcus aureus)​, a prevalent superbug that led to 1,621 hospital-acquired infection cases in Australia in 2013-14

The company says the Bio3 Guardian line, which it developed in collaboration with Csiro, Australia’s government research institute, will provide sufficient domestic revenue to take the innovation global.

According to independent tests, the products are fast-acting and effective at killing bacteria. To produce them, Kayan worked with Csiro to develop a method to extract alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid with known anti-microbial properties, from flaxseed.

"The challenge was to come up with a cost-effective manufacturing technology that consistently produced excellent quality, highly enriched alpha-linolenic acid​," said Csiro organic chemist Peter Duggan.

"What we've achieved is a smarter, more efficient process that's been pivotal in Kayban's journey to commercialising a unique saleable product​."

The technology has been transferred to Melbourne-based Csiro spin-off, Boron Molecular, to extract the flaxseed component for Kayban on a multi-kilogram scale. Kayban will then work with another local manufacturer to formulate the end product.

Frank Palermo, Kayban's director, said Bio3 Guardian offered an effective way to prevent the spread of infection.

"Our products contain a unique antimicrobial formula that uses natural flaxseed oil properties, instead of ethanol, to kill bad bacteria while leaving essential good bacteria intact​.

"It's a moisturising, all-natural alternative to ethanol-based products that can cause skin to dry and crack upon repeated use and increase chances of developing conditions like dermatitis​.

"That's going to benefit nurses, doctors and patients in hospitals and aged care homes who regularly need to use sanitisers and disinfectants to maintain hygiene or care for wounds​," Palermo said

Researchers begin clinical trial to assess sailuotong’s benefits for dementia

Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine will begin a clinical trial on a Chinese herbal medicine which pilot studies show to be effective in treating cognitive impairment associated with vascular dementia.

Associate Professor Dennis Chang
Associate Professor Dennis Chang

Over 200 Australians with dementia will soon be joining one of the nation's largest clinical trials for a medicine of this kind when NICM begins its study into sailuotong.

A complex combination of ginseng, ginkgo and saffron, sailuotong has been scientifically developed and systematically studied in the laboratory and clinical trials.

These preliminary studies have shown sailuotong improves the cognitive and memory impairment associated with vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia, is associated with numerous mini strokes, some of which may be undetectable to the patient, along with hypertension and diabetes. The result is memory loss and a decline in cognitive ability.

Roughly 340,000 Australians live with dementia, of which 20-30% are thought to suffer from vascular dementia, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. In Australia, there is a new case of dementia every six minutes.

There is currently no single specific treatment for vascular dementia. However, if the Phase III clinical trial is successful, sailuotong will be a frontline treatment for thousands of people across the world, said Dennis Chang, of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University.

"Current pharmaceutical drug treatments for vascular dementia are ineffective because they don't address the multiple factors associated with the disease​," said Associate Professor Chang, who is the clinical trial’s chief investigator.

"However in Chinese medicine, the combination of several herbal compounds which work together to address different causes and symptoms of a disease is common​.

"Preliminary studies of Sailuotong showed it increased blood flow to the brain and those taking the herbal medicine improved their scores on standard cognitive tests​.”

Complementary Medicines Australia, the natural supplements industry body, has welcomed the announcement. 

This is promising news for the large number of Australians who suffer from this type of dementia, and for their carers and their families​,” said Carl Gibson, its chief executive. 

Over the last 20 years, there has been exponential growth in the body of scientific knowledge in support of the use of complementary medicines, despite our industry not having received the same level of significant government funding that pharmaceutical medicines have enjoyed​. 

In addition, greater investment by industry has been hindered by a lack of patentability or other incentives to innovation​.” 

Innovative products like Sailuotong, Gibson said, provided the “engine of growth​” for the Australian complementary health industry when they were developed and tested by rigorous research. 

Sugar-free drinks just as harmful to tooth enamel, study finds

Melbourne researchers believe that sugar-free drinks and sweets may still provoke tooth decay after a number of samples they tested were found to contain additives and pH levels that would cause damage to tooth enamel.


Scientists at the University of Melbourne’s Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre measured dental enamel softening and tooth surface loss following exposure to a range of drinks.

They tested 23 different types of drink, including soft drinks and sports drinks, and concluded that​ “sugar-free​” labelling did not necessarily mean a product was safe for teeth.

Many people are not aware that while reducing your sugar intake does reduce your risk of dental decay, the chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can cause the equally damaging condition of dental erosion​,” said Eric Reynolds, chief executive of the research centre.

The study found that the majority of soft drinks and sports drinks tested caused softening of dental enamel by 30%-50%.

Moreover, both sugar-free soft drinks, and those containing sugar—including flavoured mineral waters—produced measurable loss of the tooth’s surface, with no significant difference between the two groups of drinks.

And of the eight sports drinks they tested, all but two, which had higher calcium content, were found to cause loss of dental enamel.

Even sugar-free confectionery products that were labelled “Toothfriendly” were found to be erosive when tested, Professor Reynolds added.

Kiwi obesity campaigner to bow out in frustration

A New Zealand obesity campaigner has admitted defeat after watching the country’s diabetes rate skyrocket.

Dr Robyn Toomath

Diabetes specialist Robyn Toomath began Fight the Obesity Epidemic, which has called for tougher rules on the marketing of junk food to children, in 2001. 

But now, with one in three adults and children suffering from diabetes, she says her crusade has been going nowhere.

"Clearly I've made no progress​,” Dr Toomath told Radio NZ. “There's not a single thing that comes to mind other than the district health boards are going to provide a healthy food environment for their staff​.”

"I mean really, it's pathetic that that's all we can think of​.”

Dr Toomath, who is clinical director of general medicine at Auckland Hospital, told the station that healthy living programmes were aspirational but they were also stigmatising and would not make a difference to the obesity crisis.

"Most people will lose weight for six months, maybe 12 months​,” she said. “But if you look five years out, about 85% people are right back where they were and many of them are much fatter​. 

So all the evidence shows that trying to lose weight by all the methods that are available, short of bariatric surgery is unsuccessful​.”

In spite of a chorus of praise from politicians for her work, Dr Toomath said the release of her book on obesity next year would be her swan song after 14 years of campaigning.

"She has often been the lone voice that was standing up and talking about obesity in New Zealand, the impact it was having, the need to address it, the need to have policy​,” said the Labour party’s health spokeswoman, Annette King, in tribute. 

And she has had to face a lot of critics, but I think she has underestimated the impact she has made​.”

Blackmores launches fortified superfoods range

Australia’s biggest health foods manufacturer has launched a new line to tap into an exploding consumer trend for natural superfoods.


Blackmores said its Superfoods + Nature Boost range has been designed to support nutrient intake from food by adding concentrated vitamins and nutrients.

Australians are extremely conscious of their health and wellbeing and they’re searching for ways to maintain optimum nutrition as efficiently as possible​,” said Marnie Corrigan, senior product manager.

The range consists of six nutritional powders containing cacao, chia, matcha green tea, coconut water, super greens and a wild blueberry blend.

To these Blackmores has added a “Nature Boost” injection of natural ingredients containing nutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants and magnesium. 

One serve of our Wild Blueberry Blend + Nature Boost Vitamin C is the equivalent of more than 50 fresh whole wild European blueberries, not to mention the regular blueberries also in the blend​,” said Corrigan.

Related topics Formulation Oceania Fortification

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