Helping bring the sea cucumber to the natural health market

- Halifax, Nova Scotia

Companies often look to the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to help them with the scientific research required to bring their products to market. One of these companies, AKSO Marine Biotech Inc., uses the Northern sea cucumber, found in the North Atlantic Ocean, to develop products for the natural health market. The Halifax-based dry sea cucumber research and product development company works with NRC researchers—with support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) and the NRC's Ocean program—to test extracts from dried sea cucumbers for their capsule-based natural health products.

With expertise in the sustainable transformation of bio-based resources into high-value products, the NRC’s Aquatic and Crop Resource Development Research Centre has the scientific knowledge and equipment to help companies process and validate the composition of a variety of compounds. “We prepare different extracts from the sea cucumbers and evaluate which class of molecules are more suitable for their application,” explains Junzeng Zhang, Research Officer and lead researcher on the project from the NRC.

Sea cucumber has been used as and for natural health products across the world for centuries. The North Atlantic species is relatively new to the market and research into these organisms is important for companies wanting to introduce natural products derived from it.

"We are grateful to be working with the NRC. For AKSO, the challenge was trying to find a modern way for people to consume sea cucumber,” says Dr. Guangling Jiao, R&D Manager from AKSO. “The NRC has contributed significantly to support our capsule development and we look forward to collaborating to explore more potential of Atlantic sea cucumber."

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