Burcon's activities center around plant protein extraction and purification technology, with the aim of developing patented processes that tap inexpensive oilseed meals to make purified plant proteins with nutritional, functional or nutraceutical properties. The new patent is Burcon's eighth in the area of canola and flax protein technologies and canola protein isolate applications. In addition to covering the improved production process, the patent also includes the first step in removing mucilage from the flax seed prior to removal of the flax oil and protein. Flaxseed is already popular in the food and supplement arenas as it is one of the best sources of vegetarian omega-3. This healthy fatty acid, found in flax in the form of alpha linolenic acid, has been studied for its role in heart, immune, and joint health, as well as for maintaining good skin. Consumer awareness of the oilseed crop is also linked to its lignan and fiber content. Burcon's new patent now places more focus on the seed's protein content. "Burcon's strategy is to ensure that our innovative protein extraction technology, applications of our proteins and the signature characteristics of Burcon's proteins are protected on a worldwide basis," said Johann Tergesen, Burcon's president and COO. "The US patent office's grant of our latest patent further strengthens our intellectual property portfolio," he added. Burcon now holds a total of 44 issued patents globally, covering inventions that include the 8 granted US patents. The company has a further 34 patent applications currently filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The firm has a total of 200 patent applications currently being reviewed around the world. A major project the company is currently working on is the development of canola proteins together with the agricultural leader Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The companies have teamed up to produce Puratein and Supertein, which they claim would be the world's first commercial canola proteins. Burton said the ultimate goal is to have the two products join the competitive soy, dairy and egg protein ingredient market, targeting them towards potential uses in foods, nutritional supplements and personal care products. In June 2007, Burcon announced it planned to pursue regulatory recognition for Puratein and Supertein, and initiated feeding trials and the required scientific studies during the second quarter of last year. "The scientific studies are expected to be completed within the next quarter and are being prepared to a standard to support the United States GRAS affirmation process as well as to enable their use in making application for regulatory approval under the Novel Foods process in the European community and in other countries such as Canada," said the company.