Omega-3 innovation: KD Pharma launches DPA and PRM ingredients

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / stocksnapper
© Getty Images / stocksnapper
EPA and DHA: These two fatty acids have been the focus of omega-3 research for a long time, but emerging data is shining the spotlight on DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) and the fascinating world of the pre-resolving mediators (PRMs).

KD Pharma has a technology platform and a diverse set of tools that can be applied to marine oils, David Barnes, PhD, MBA, KD Pharma’s head of global research & development, told NutraIngredients-USA during an interview at the recent SupplySide West show. The company recently launched ingredients based on DPA and pre-resolving mediators (PRMs). “We can do things others cannot,”​ said Dr Barnes.


The first of these new ingredients is called Complete3, which contains the highest levels of DPA in the market, said the company.

Interest in fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids has increased over the decades since Dr Jorn Dyerberg and his co-workers first reported the cardiovascular benefits of the fatty acids in the early 1970s in The Lancet​ and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.​ Those early studies focused on the Greenlandic Inuit, a people who have been described as the “most exquisitely carnivorous people on earth”​. Their diet was characterized as containing mostly the meat and fat of whales, seals, sea birds, and fish. It is interesting to note that the DPA content of fish oil is about 2%, but it can be up to 6% in seal oil.

Since those early reports, the focus has been mostly on EPA and DHA, with DPA largely forgotten. That is slowly changing, however.

“There is evidence of the benefits of DPA and more and more people are looking at it for different reasons,”​ said Dr Barnes. “For one, mother’s milk contains DPA levels that are on a par with DHA​. There are epidemiological studies​ that show that DPA in breastmilk is associated with childhood allergy risk.”

Second, the oxidation profile of DPA is slower, he said, while its incorporation in to cell membranes is faster, and the literature points to this.

Third, there is data from a randomized clinical trial by Maki et al. (Journal of Clinical Lipidology​, 2017, Vol. 11, pp. 102-109), which showed that a combination of EPA + DPA altered cardiovascular disease risk in men and women with hypertriglyceridemia more favorably than EPA alone.

Finally, Prof Charles Serhan at Harvard Medical School has reported that there are DPA-specific resolvins​, potent anti-inflammatory compounds.  (See also: Weylandt, 2016, European Journal of Pharmacology​, Vol. 785, pp. 108-115.)

“Mother Nature generally doesn’t make things unless there’s a reason,” ​said Dr Barnes. As interest in DPA increases, and to help brands differentiate their products in a very crowded omega-3 market, KD Pharma has developed processes to allow them to produce up to 24% DPA that can be blended with EPA and DHA. This is the story of the Complete3 blend.

For more on DPA, there is an extensive review by Prof Phil Calder from the University of Southampton in England, published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society​which states: “Most research on very long-chain n-3 fatty acids to date has focused on EPA and DHA, usually studied in combination. This has resulted in many researchers thinking that EPA and DHA have the same biological effects. This seems not to be the case, but again this is an area of research that is likely to become better explored in the next period.

“Related to this, biological actions of DPA have emerged but the effects of DPA and its mechanisms of action are poorly described at the moment. It seems likely that DPA will become a greater focus of research in this area.”

“Exciting combinations”

Hemp © Getty Images jessicahyde
Hemp. Image © Getty Images / jessicahyde

One such combination is the company’s Phyto3 ingredient, which combines its KD-Pür omega-3 fish oil with phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil.

The ingredient was launched in 2017​, with KD Pharma in this instance interested in the complementarity of the ingredients: Omega-3s have been known to be converted into cannabinoids in the body.  Recent research done on animal cell lines at the University of Illinois Champagne has elucidated the cascade of reactions that makes this happen​.   Other recent research has shed light on how the endocannabinoid system potentially affects obesity​, plays a role in brain health​ along with many other indications.

“KD Pharma is building a platform around omega-3, and can produce really exciting combinations,”​ added Dr Barnes.


Another area of growing interest in the lipid community is around pre-resolving mediators (PRMs) and specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs). While SPMs are very low in abundance and not very stable, PRMs can be measured and standardized.

However, this is a tricky story to tell, said Dr Barnes, and works for brand owners with close educational relationship with their customers, such as healthcare practitioner brands.

“To date, there have been no specific intervention studies with these specific ingredients, but you can detect these in mother’s milk, and their action appears to resolve inflammation,” ​he said. “By supplementing you could quickly target the inflammation, and this is a message that works for the healthcare practitioner.”

“Anywhere you have inflammation is therefore a possible target, such as metabolic syndrome, which is a state of unresolved inflammation.”

KD Pharma is focused on 18-HEPE (derived from EPA), and 17-HDHA and 14-HDHA (both derived from DHA), he said. The company uses proprietary fractionation methods to create an enriched product with between 75 and 300 micrograms of PRMs per gram of oil.

Adam Ismail, the former executive director of omega-3 trade group GOED, told us back in 2016​: “I think lipid mediator products are going to be big. These will be huge in pharma, but also in nutrition.” ​ Ismail is now KD Pharma’s Chief Strategy Officer.


Inuit hunter heading out in his kayaks to go hunting © Getty Images Earl Grad
Pioneering work by Bang and Dyerberg in the Greenlandic Inuit opened the door to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. The diets of Inuit - “an exquisitely carnivorous people” – consisted mostly of meat from whales, seals, sea birds, and fish. Here, an Inuit hunter heads out in his kayak to go hunting. Image © Getty Images / Earl Grad

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