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Chromadex to develop validated analytical tests for milk thistle, turmeric

By Hank Schultz , 31-Oct-2012

Chromadex will develop create single laboratory validated methods for the quantitative determination of total silymarin content of milk thistle and of total curcuminoid content in turmeric under a government contract, the company announced Monday.

Under the contracts from the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health, Chromadex will draw on the experience and knowledge of others in the botanical and dietary supplements industry. The goal is to create methods that can be used to evaluate raw materials, extracts and finished products, the company said. Once completed, the methods developed under these contracts will be published.

“We already have analytical methods for (milk thistle and turmeric) and have for many years.  Now it’s a matter of to taking the methods that are out there and then improving them to the point that they will pass the level of validation that’s required by AOAC,” Frank Jaksch, CEO of Chromadex, told NutraIngredients-USA.

“The whole point is to get one method out there that is the validated method.”

Not a big money maker

Participating in a program like this isn’t much of a money maker, Jaksch said.  But, he added, it’s important both for Chromadex’s position in the marketplace and for the development of the overall industry.

“It’s not a compelling financial story.  But it’s good to get these type of contracts to do these types of validation projects. It’s hard on our own to invest in the level of validation that we are going to be doing with these two methods,” Jaksch said.

“We’re typically not going to do that level on our own dime. There isn’t a payback in doing that, which why I think it’s important that the government through the NIH or other programs continues to finance these validation projects.”

Developing the existing testing protocols into fully validated methods won’t be all that time consuming, Jaksch said. But fulfilling the publication part of the contract is something that just can’t be rushed.

“Part of these contracts stipulate that we are going to get these published in a peer-reviewed publication.  You don’t just snap your fingers and get that done,” he said.

Curcumin is one of the most studied natural ingredients on the market.  But, as with other such ingredients, it can be difficult to reconcile all the studies because it’s hard to know what was the precise makeup of the ingredient.  Having a recognized, validated method could be a boon for getting reproducible science results, Jaksch said.

“It could help in the testing of clinical materials and making sure there is adequate characterization,” he said.

Curcumin suppliers use their own methods

Getting a validated analytical method published is unlikely to make waves in the supply of curcumin ingredients in the short term.  Two suppliers of the ingredient contacted by NutraIngredients-USA are quite comfortable with the methods they now use.

New Jersey-based Sabinsa Corp. has for a number of years supplied a branded turmeric ingredient called Curcumin C3 Complex, and has developed a method for its characterization in conjunction with the United States Pharmacopoeia to go along with the ingredient’s hefty science dossier.

“I can tell you that we have done this with our Curcumin C3 Complex via USP in 2007 with the  United States Pharmacopeia, which is really the industry standard when it comes to such standardizations,” said Shaheen Majeed, marketing director for Sabinsa.

Indena, based in Milan, Italy, supplies Meriva,  a turmeric phytosome ingredient.

“We use a validated HPLC method to analyze the curcuminoid content  in our MERIVA,” said Greg Ris, vice president of sales for Indena USA.

“I do not think this will change what is marketed in this industry, as much of it is still based on Sabinsa's C3, due to the clinical studies that continue to use our curcumin,” Majeed said.

“There is confusion in the marketplace, likely from how the different curcumin products are being marketed. This is not likely to end,” he said.

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