NeOpuntia was launched in 1999, and is now contained in more than 150 dietary products available worldwide, according to the company. It has mainly been marketed for weight management thanks to its ability to bind to fat in the gut. Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is described as a collection of conditions that increase risk of lifestyle-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A person would be said to have the syndrome if they have three out of the following five conditions: high fasting glucose levels, abdominal obesity; high blood pressure, high blood triglyceride levels; and low HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Since 2004, the firm said sales of NeOpuntia have increased by some 30 to 40 percent, and this latest study could help further increases. Confidence Karen Jaunatre, spokesperson, told NutraIngredients.com: "To have this study published means a serious acknowledgement by the scientific community, which will help to gain customers' confidence. "Companies are more and more demanding in terms of science, and some were just waiting for this "proof of seriousness" to include NeOpuntia into their finished products. What's more, the latest study broadens NeOpuntia's field of applications, whereas the previous in vitro and in vivo studies focused on its lipophilic action. "Beyond weight management, our patented cactus fibre also shows health benefits, which will help us to target additional market segments such as cardio-vascular or Metabolic Syndrome." The study was conducted in France in 2006. Sixty-eight women with a Body Mass Index of between 25 and 40 and diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome were recruited. The study was monocentric, randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled. Half of the women were given 1.6grams of NeOpuntia per meal and the other half a placebo. Researchers found that NeOpuntia improved the level of "good cholesterol". They found that in women 45 years or older NeOpuntia caused a large improvement by increasing levels of good HDL-cholesterol and decreasing levels of triglycerides. At the end of the study, almost 40 per cent of women in the control group were no longer diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, they found. The research, published in The International Journal of Drug, Devices & Diagnostic Research, shows that NeOpuntia could help balance blood lipid levels and reduce cardiovascular risk due to its beneficial effects on HDL cholesterol. BioSerae last year said the success of its ingredients allowed more money to be spent on research and development.