Epax launches omega-11 ingredient with broad functionality

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | People Images
Getty | People Images

Related tags: EPA, DHA, omega-3, OMEGA-11, Inflammation

An omega-11 ingredient developed by marine lipid specialist, Epax, enhances absorption of omega-3 and optimises anti-inflammatory and lipid modulating activity.

Epax Cetoleic 10 is the culmination of 10 years of research and the first product in the new Epax NovusLipid range designed to harness “less familiar” ​EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) marine lipids.

The ingredient derives its health benefits from cetoleic acid (omega-11), a long-chain monounsaturated fatty acid (LC-MUFA) with diverse health benefits.

Omega-11 is “a relatively new phenomenon​” but demonstrates broad mechanisms of action and synergistic activity with other fish oils, according to Epax CEO, Bjørn Refsum.

Although relatively low in EPA and DHA, cetoleic acid promotes conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in omega-3 and helps normalise plasma lipids by reducing triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and lowering inflammation.

“Omega-11 cetoleic acid has additional and possibly complementary effects to EPA and DHA. This has been well documented for example in metabolic health,” ​says Refsum.

Modulating activity

Cetoleic is a long-chain monosaturated fatty acid (LC-MUFA) found in North Atlantic fish, such as herring, mackerel and tobis, and like other LC-MUFAs is a source of energy through mitochondrial and peroxisomal oxidation.

LC-MUFAs bind to peroxisome proliferator-activated nuclear receptors (PPAR) that lead to reduced lipids in the liver and blood, decreased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and stimulates macrophage switching to a non-inflammatory phenotype (M2).

Studies on mice demonstrate that fish oils rich in cetoleic acid reduce systemic inflammation and degree of atherosclerosis, while others have identified a link between intake and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome and obesity-related metabolic dysfunction.

Recent Epax data revealed a 1.5% increase in omega-3 index with supplementation, which was equal to the control omega-3 oil containing 48% more EPA+DHA. There is also substantial evidence that endothelial, adipocyte and likely epithelial inflammation is subdued by cetoleic-rich oils, Refsum says.

Skin health

Omega-11 may also contribute to increased omega-3:omega-6 ratios in blood plasma, with particular benefits for skin, hair, and bone health.

A trial on 24 women randomised to administer either Epax Cetoleic 10 or corn oil placebo to assess the effects on healthy skin, showed significant reductions in redness in the intervention group, indicating anti-inflammatory activity is relevant in skin.

“LC-MUFAs are known to be stored selectively in adipose tissue where they have a biological role in reducing inflammation. The main site of adipose tissue is in close proximity to skin (sub-cutaneous fat),” ​Refsum explains.

“Epax data suggests a unique effect on skin inflammation. We foresee that skin will be an important site of omega-11 activity, but we are also keen to understand the many other potential uses of this lipid.”

Commercial interest

Refsum says Epax now has the process and patents in place to launch the ingredient for commercial applications: “We expect increased scientific focus on the subject, leading to increased commercial interest.

“We are now vertically integrated for delivery of raw material and have even built a dedicated processing facility for this, securing a sustainable and robust supply chain.”

Research on skin health is now focused on eczema to “provide evidence of a nutritional alternative for skin care for millions of eczema sufferers​” and mechanisms of action in metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity and fatty liver.

Refsum adds: “We’re still at the start of the journey -- there’s still a huge amount to discover about the potential of cetoleic acid and other new marine lipid ingredients.”

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