In a study conducted by noted cranberry researcher Amy Howell, PhD, of Rutgers University in New Jersey, the ingredient was given in a single 975 mg dose to 20 participants. Their urine was collected post supplementation and bacterial adhesion activity was measured ex vivo.
Anti adhesion activity observed
Howell said the single dose, “[Y]ielded detectable ex vivo bacterial anti-adhesion activity in human urine. Overall, 17/20 participants (85%) elicited a moderate positive anti-adhesion response to the treatment regime. Urinary activity slowly increased to reach a peak at 6 hours, with a 37.5% treatment response. There were no significant gender differences detected in urinary anti-adhesion activity at this sample size.”
Interrupting the ability of microorganisms to adhere to the linings of the urinary tract has been postulated as a key mechanism of action for the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberry ingredients have been researched for years for the ability of the proanthocyanidins within the berries to exert this effect.
So Howell’s results in the small observational study were neither surprising nor unique. But Derek Timm, technical sales director for Taiyo International, said that the company felt it was important to verify that this was true for this ingredient, rather than extrapolating from the large body of existing cranberry research.
SunCran is a combination of cranberry powder supplied by Canadian company Fruit d’Or that is dried onto Taiyo’s well-researched Sunfiber prebiotic guar gum ingredient. Using the Sunfiber makes for an ingredient that fits well into a clean label positioning, Timm said, as it has none of the maltodextrins or other carriers or excipients common to some other powder berry ingredients.
“The next step will be to do a larger clinical study that will show efficacy on par with the other research in the area,” he said.
Next step: What does this mean?
Howell’s previous research has demonstrated this activity. A previous study she did comparing three different cranberry extracts also used an ex vivo model measuring activity in human urine. In that study, too, her team found significant anti adhesion activity.
In the most recent study done for Taiyo, Howell echoed Timm’s concerns. The data is promising; the next step is to find out what it means, she said. It’s one thing to interrupt this bacterial activity in urine with a single dose; it’s another to actually depress the rate at which people experience UTIs.
“Further research is needed to determine what activity levels at each time period correspond to a biologically relevant decrease in urinary tract infections. In addition, this treatment combination did not reduce the pH of urine enough to produce a bacteriostatic effect on bacterial growth,” she said.
The research on cranberry ingredients in that context has yielded mixed results. Part of the issue here, and it is one that affects research into many botanical ingredients, is the multiplicity of forms of the botanical that have been studied. Timm said that’s why it’s important for Taiyo to methodically construct a dossier pertaining to its specific product.
“This is using our Sunfiber as a natural carrier. So what we have here is a completely new ingredient, and what we have been doing is building up the science behind the ingredient,” Timm told NutraIngredients-USA.