Aker seeks better understanding of krill oil’s potential in lupus research partnership

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Live krill sampled for research purposes aboard an Aker harvesting vessel. Photo courtesy of Nils Hoem, Aker BioMarine
Live krill sampled for research purposes aboard an Aker harvesting vessel. Photo courtesy of Nils Hoem, Aker BioMarine

Related tags Krill oil chronic disease

Aker BioMarine has entered into a partnership with the Lupus Research Alliance that will potentially help sufferers of the disorder, as well as help Aker better understand the mechanisms of action of krill oil.

Lupus, known scientifically as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 5 million people worldwide. Unlike other such disorders that have arisen in modern times, lupus was first described in the Middle Ages.

The symptoms of lupus can include inflammation, swelling, fatigue and skin rashes or lesions. The disease is generally presented as a low to mid-level chronic condition, but does have an acute phase that can be fatal. The disease can cause damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart and lungs.

Research will help company better understand krill’s potential

Aker will cooperate in a trial sponsored by the Lupus Research Alliance that will test the anti inflammatory potential of its Superba Krill Oil ingredient for sufferers of the disease. The trial will kick off soon and involve 76 patients at 20 research sites. 

Aker noted the potential of its phospholipid-rich ingredient in this sphere several years ago. In 2014 the company joined the Lupus Research Alliance’s Lupus Drug Repositioning Program.

Aker CEO Matt Johansen said the primary near-term goal for the partnership is to better understand the full suite of health benefits for krill oil.

“When you do research in dietary supplements, you are restricted to studying healthy populations. So it is hard to get really strong results,”​ Johansen told NutraIngredients-USA. 

“We saw the need to do studies that yield much stronger and more interesting science. We can potentially get some results that doctors would be interested in talking about,”​ he said.

Johansen also noted that only one new drug to help lupus sufferers has come online in the past 60 years, so a need for alternative strategies to help patients is pressing.

Anecdotal reports spark trial

Kenneth M. Farber, CEO and President of the Lupus Research Alliance, said interest in krill oil was sparked by anecdotal reports from patients who said they were getting good relief from using the supplement.

“It seemed to be doing more than what other omega-3s could do,”​ he said.

“We are very pleased to work with Aker BioMarine on bringing a potential therapeutic option to people with lupus,” ​he said. “The company is thoroughly testing the effectiveness of krill for this group of patients through well-designed scientifically rigorous clinical studies.” 

Collaborating with Lupus Research Alliance on the study’s design and protocols, Aker BioMarine is the clinical material and financial sponsor of the trial, with AMPEL BioSolutions the subcontractor engaged by Lupus Research Alliance to conduct the trial.   

Results are expected in 2020.

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