Tina Sampalis, MD, PhD, helped to develop the first krill oil marketed as a dietary ingredient during her time with Neptune Technologies and Bioressources (which has since been rebranded as Neptune Wellness). She was also head of Acasti Pharma, which is developing a krill oil based drug. After leaving Neptune/Acasti, Sampalis became acquainted with the science surrounding another long chain fatty acid, omega 7, which was being developed by Tersus Pharmaceuticals.
Sampalis was involved in the first krill oil patents, so she has some experience in combing through the scientific data that accompanies such filings. The Tersus ingredient stood out, she said, and after doing a little digging, she became convinced it was the real thing.
“Researchers at Harvard were really among the first to study this ingredient. It showed a reduction in triglycerides, and a reduction in HDL. But there were a coupe of benefits that completely grabbed my interest, such as its effects on dry eyes. The results were good, maybe a little too good. I did my due diligence and I talked directly to the principal researchers,” Sampalis told NutraIngredients-USA.
The other fatty acids
The initial research on the health effects of long chain acids in fish oils and algal oils focused on two molecules, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Krill oil delivered these but on a phospholipid as opposed to triglyceride backbone, which was marketed as providing an absorption and digestibility advantage. But there are other fatty acids within fish oils and other omega oils, such as DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) within omega-3s category as well as omega 7s and omega 9s.
Then researchers began looking into the benefits of omega-7s, specifically palmitoleic acid. This fatty acid has been gaining increasing traction in recent years, as sea buckthorn, one of the sources of this ingredient within the plant realm, has been gaining notoriety.
The issue with extracting omega-7s from fish is that along with the palmitoleic acid can come a less desirable—even potentially toxic fraction—palmitic acid. Sampalis said one of the things that attracted her to Tersus was the company’s patented method for removing this fraction. While this is a naturally occurring fatty acid with anchovy oil (the company’s source material), it only becomes an issue when the specific set of omega-7s are singled out and concentrated.
In addition to her scientific chops, Sampalis has long product development experience within the industry. Tersus’s ingredient is already on the market in the US via its own brand called Cardia7; Life Extension also has a finished good supplement featuring the material. Sampalis helped set up a recent deal with a company called Relivium, which is going to market a finished product featuring the ingredient in Canada.
“Our ingredient is a very safe, low dose functional new type of omega. It has a very unique feature in that it does not smell or taste like krill oil or fish oil. Tersus until recently has not done any really serious marketing; we wanted to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s on the regulatory approvals,” she said.
“The Relevium deal, it’s a small company and they have one formula exclusive to them. It’s not a bad way to introduce the ingredient into Canada. The product has launched in Spain and we are getting a lot more interest from big, national brands,” Sampalis said.