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Marine bioactives in health and disease

Research within NICHE investigates the effects of marine bioactives, including seaweed extracts and isolated seaweed compounds, low molecular weight agar and alginates, supplements and enriched foods on disease biomarkers using a wide range of in vitro and in vivo models and human intervention studies.

The marine environment provides a rich natural source of bioactive compounds including carbohydrates, proteins, peptides, amino acids, fatty acids and antioxidants. Such marine-derived nutrients have demonstrated great potential in the prevention and treatment of human disease including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, gut mediated disorders, bone health and cancer and, therefore, there is considerable potential for the exploitation of this largely untapped resource for the development of functional food ingredients.

We has a keen interest in the prebiotic effects of novel seaweed components. Methodologies employed include simulation of the human digestive process and such approaches allow the effects of both raw and digested marine extracts to be investigated within in vitro models.

We also contribute to NutraMara, an all-Ireland, multidisciplinary research consortium focused on developing scientific knowledge, capabilities and processes to assess and evaluate the potential of marine-origin bioactive compounds as components in functional foods and as food ingredients.

Group members are partners in the EU projects HYFFI and SWAFAX and have recently received FIRM funding to investigate the potential use of seaweed components as prebiotic ingredients in functional foods and to investigate marine derived peptides for glycaemic management. The group also collaborates with industry and other research centres in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

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