BioSerae has targeted the supplements sector since 1999 with its Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) ingredient, NeOpuntia, and has added to its stable in this area with Cacti-Nea, a powder for both the foods and food supplements sectors. Water-soluble Cacti-Nea Instant, also a powder, has been developed for beverages. The ingredients are dried extracts from the fruit of the cactus, as opposed to NeOpuntia which is derived from the leaves, and therefore have a more pleasant taste profile, the company claimed. NeOpuntia has been incorporated into 171 products around the world, almost exclusively in food supplements, being marketed on its ability to combat metabolic syndrome, manage weight and boost antioxidant levels. It has been a runaway success for BioSerae, with sales growth in excess of 30 per cent since 2004. "There are already dietary supplements containing Cacti-Nea in France, Spain and Italy," BioSerae spokesperson, Karen Jaunatre, told NutraIngredients.com. Cacti-Nea Instant had been incorporated into a beverage in France although Jaunatre would not reveal any product names other than the Italian weight loss supplement, Giorno i Notte, an existing customer as the product also contains NeOpuntia. "NeoPuntia has gone into some foods but mostly supplements," Juanatre said. "Cacti-Nea is much more suited to non-supplement applications and we are hoping to tap into the growing weight management market plus increasing interest in antioxidant foods. We are targeting both European and international markets. We are in discussions with several food and drink companies and expect further launches this year." Science The ingredients were supported by in vivo studies, the company said. "An in vivo study on rats showed that, after only seven days of treatment, Cacti-Nea helps to strengthen the antioxidant protection of the body by increasing the globular rate of glutathione peroxidase (antioxidant marker)." A recent study supported NeOpuntia's ability to combat metabolic syndrome, a collection of lifestyle-related illnesses that includes cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Published in The International Journal of Drug, Devices & Diagnostic Research, it found NeOpuntia could reduce cardiovascular risk due to its beneficial effects on HDL cholesterol, especially among women 45 years or older, of whom 40 per cent in the control group were no longer diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.