Publish date: 09/04/2019

In a world-first research discovery, a North Canterbury based company has found a key nutrient in blackcurrants that is proven to delay brain ageing, including diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia.

Rangiora-based Vitality® New Zealand produces blackcurrant supplements for a wide range of health benefits. The company’s Directors, Jim Grierson and David Eder, commissioned independent research into the benefits of blackcurrants and were surprised to discover that the berries are very high in a key brain nutrient called cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP).

According to lead researcher and associate professor at University of Auckland Centre for Brain Research, Dr. Jian Guan, cGP is essential for maintaining the function of an ageing body and mind. She says that cGP deficiency can lead to early onset of brain ageing.

David says, “This discovery is very exciting. It’s a world first. Overseas, pharmaceutical companies are trying to synthesize cGP because it is so vital to whole-body health, and here we’ve found a naturally rich source of it right in our back yard.”

David and Jim were quick to patent the discovery and the methodology thereof, and have now bottled the valuable nutrient in their range of health supplements which includes Brain Shield – a supplement designed specifically for people with low levels of cGP.

“As we age, the health of the brain diminishes. The brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress damage which can break down the immune system and lead to illnesses including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia,” explains David.

“Maintaining good levels of cGP has shown to be beneficial for brain fitness. cGP helps to normalize something in our bodies called IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor, which is a hormone that is essential to whole of body wellness, including the health of the brain.

“Whilst our main market at the moment is the 45 to 90-year-old demographic, we are looking to build into the younger demographic as this is a widely beneficial product that should be taken long-term for maximum benefit.”

Throughout their journey, Vitality® New Zealand has been supported by Callaghan Innovation, which provided a Patent Discovery Grant in 2016 followed by a Research & Development Grant the following year.

“These grants assisted us with our very extensive research programme,” explains Jim. "Callaghan Innovation has been very helpful in this whole process.”

With a range of products already available via its website, Vitality® New Zealand is working to not only extend its domestic and international market reach but has also committed to further clinical research, including additional patient antidotal response trials with various neuro-degenerative illness groups.

“We want to find out more,” explains David. “We will take it to the world. Our hope is that we can have some influence on these terrible brain illnesses. For some people, this may well be the answer to half the battle and if we can help, that’s huge.”  

For more information on the research undertaken and products available from Vitality® New Zealand visit https://vitalitynz.nz.

For more information on Callaghan Innovation R&D funding, including whether your business might be eligible, contact Miles Dalton at Enterprise North Canterbury. Miles can sit down with you and discuss possible grant options, walk you through the application process and facilitate an introduction to the Callaghan Innovation team.