NeOpuntia was launched in 1999, and is now contained in more than 100 dietary products available worldwide, according to the company. Until now has mainly been marketed for weight management thanks to its ability to bind to fat in the gut.
Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is described as a collection of conditions that increase risk of lifestyle-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
A person would be said to have the syndrome if they have three out of the following five condition: high fasting glucose levels, abdominal obesity; high blood pressure, high blood triglyceride levels; and low HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
Karen Jaunatre, spokesperson for BioSerae, told NutraIngredients.com that with increasing awareness of obesity and health-related condition, weight management support aim to tackle the issue as a whole.
To this end, the six-week trial was conducted in Brittany, France this summer and involved 68 female participants with metabolic syndrome and body mass index between 25 and 40.
The study was monocentric, randomised, placebo-controlled and in parallel double-blind format. Half of the participants received 1.6m of NeOpuntia per meal in the form of capsules, and the other half received a placebo. All participants also adhered to a well-balanced diet.
The researchers studied changes in cholesterol (LDL and HDL) and triglyceride levels, and the participants were evaluated for metabolic syndrome at the beginning and at the end of the trial.
By the third day, those on the NeOpuntia were seen to have a 10 per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol compared to only 3 per cent in those on the placebo. The latter measure was likely the result of the well-balanced diet.
Most importantly, according to BioSerae, HDL cholesterol levels were seen to improve in the NeOpuntia group by 0.0217g/l, a factor associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
The effect on HDL cholesterol and on triglycerides was particularly apparent in pre-menopausal women aged 45 years and older.
In addition, at the end of the six week period 60 per cent of the women taking the NeOpuntia were diagnosed as being free from metabolic syndrome. Thirty per cent of those on just the well-balanced diet plus placebo were metabolic syndrome-free.
The study has not been published in a scientific journal but the spokesperson said that discussions to this end are underway. NutraIngredients.com has seen only a summary of the design and results.
Jaunatre said that Bio Serae expects the study to have a very positive effect on marketing of the ingredient. "It will be targeted not only to weight management applications, but also to more global health management," she said.
"NeOpuntia can now be considered as a fully qualified health ingredient for nutraceutials and food products."
The ingredient received another marketing boost last December when it received organic certification. This was said to give it a further advantage against shellfish-derived chitosan, which is believed to work in the same way and is also aimed at the weight-management market, but is typically extracted using solvents.