Cargill shores up its IP in vegetarian glucosamine market with new US patent

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Glucosamine Chondroitin sulfate Osteoarthritis Cargill

Glucosamine dominates the joint health market
Glucosamine dominates the joint health market
Cargill has further solidified its position in the vegetarian glucosamine market after being granted another patent to protect the latest improvements to its shellfish-free joint health ingredient and production process.

The US patent (8,034,925​) comes hot on the heels of patent 7,816,514, which was issued last September.

Entitled ‘Glucosamine And Method Of Making Glucosamine From Microbial Biomass’, the latest patent covers glucosamine derived from fungal biomass containing chitin plus various methods of producing it via acid hydrolysis and is described as a “continuation​” of 7,816,514.

Produced in Eddyville, Iowa, Cargill's Regenasure glucosamine is the only US-made, Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) glucosamine suitable for vegetarians and people with shellfish allergies.

Suitable starting materials include fungal sources derived from Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp., Mucor sp …

Outlining the benefits of veggie glucosamine in its patent application, Cargill said: “Presently, glucosamine is primarily derived from harvested natural sources, such as shellfish and other aquatic organisms.

“A need exists for a source of safe, kosher, non-animal product derived, high-quality glucosamine compositions that can be created economically and with a minimum of environmental impact.

“The disclosed glucosamine compositions are derived from fungal biomass containing chitin. Suitable starting materials include microbial fungal sources, such as fungal sources derived from Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp., Mucor sp., and combinations thereof. Use of a fungal biomass results in high quality glucosamine compositions that are generally uniform with low levels of impurities.”

Regenasure bucks lackluster sales trend

According to SPINS data, sales of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements were down 8.8% in 2010. However, sales of Regenasure had bucked this trend and were flat to showing slight growth, according to corn milling brand manager Michael Fleagle, who was speaking to NutraIngredients-USA at the recent American Dietetic Association (ADA) annual conference.

Prevention not cure

Cargill, which hosted a press event at the ADA event featuring Dr Kristine Clark, director of sports nutrition at Penn State University, now believes glucosamine could be most effective if consumed before subjects start to exhibit signs of joint damage.

New research was therefore focusing on investigating the mechanisms that maintain joint health, with a particular focus on the those that maintain cell and tissue homeostasis in the superficial zone or top layer of cartilage, said Cargill director of research Jennifer van de Ligt.

“We are now focusing our research on pre-disease states with a focus on the role glucosamine can play in preserving the health of the superficial zone of cartilage. We’re in the emerging field of healthy cartilage aging. This would be moving towards a ‘helps maintain cartilage health’ type claim.

“There are recognized biomarkers of health in this zone.”

Glucosamine, chondroitin and osteoarthritis

A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal last year concluded: "Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space.”

However, OARSI (OsteoArthritis Research Society International) says that some people with osteoarthritis of the knee may get symptomatic relief from glucosamine and chondroitin, said Dr Clark. “But there is not a lot of evidence it benefits other joints beyond the knee.”

But these studies were all looking at patients experiencing joint pain or loss of mobility, she said.

Now we think it might be better to consume glucosamine before you have symptoms, while the superficial zone is undisturbed.”

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