Revealing our Research Project of the Year finalists

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

© PonyWang / Getty Images
© PonyWang / Getty Images

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Pushing the boundaries within nutritional scientific research, the finalists for the 2024 NutraIngredients award for research project of the year have been announced.

Nutritional research is critical to advance our understanding of food and nutrients and their profound influence on human health. By examining the complex interplay between nutrients, our bodies and disease, these investigations illuminate powerful strategies for the possible prevention and management of an array of health conditions.

This year’s award finalists exemplify the transformative power of such research, tackling critical challenges and unveiling novel solutions within the field of nutrition.

Winner reveal

The awards will be presented at a VIP party hosted by NutraIngredients in Geneva, Switzerland on May 15, recognizing leading initiatives and products across industry categories and celebrating the 10th anniversary of the awards.

“With a stellar line-up of competitors in this year’s finals, the team is exciting to celebrate our worthy finalists and winners as well as mark a huge milestone for the brand,” said Nikki Hancocks, editor of

Probiotic strain LpHEAL9 as a potential psychobiotic

Responding to the growing prevalence of mental health conditions and the need for natural and sustainable interventions, Probi sought to build upon the significantly growing evidence highlighting the potential for probiotics to influence the mind through the gut-brain axis.

Probi’s research project involved the completion of multiple randomized controlled trials investigating its Lactiplantibacillus plantarum​ HEAL9 (LpHEAL9) probiotic strain and its effect on cognition, mood and sleep.

Healthy participants were administered either 10 billion CFU of LpHEAL9 or a placebo daily for 4 to 12 weeks. The first trial included 129 adults, with probiotic intakes resulting in the significant reduction of stress and awakening cortisol​, as well as cognitive test scores. The findings represented potential for sleep and mood improvements. A further trial in 107 adults identified that LpHEAL9 was associated with significantly reduced markers of inflammation​ and cortisol levels.

Overall, Probi’s research demonstrated the significant potential of its LpHEAL9 strain as a psychobiotic, with the findings suggesting benefits to cognition, mood and sleep.

Citicoline and docosahecaenoic acid for patients with glaucoma

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of sight loss. With more than 111 million people between the ages of 40 and 80 years expected to be affected by glaucoma by 2040, Brudy Labs sought to build upon the limited evidence on the potential of natural nutrient-based interventions for its treatment.

Specifically, the company investigated the effect of citicoline and docosahecaenoic acid (DHA) on the visual field of patients with glaucoma within a randomized controlled trial​. The research involved 73 participants who were each placed into one of four groups: group 1 (vitamin C), group 2 (DHA), group 3 (citicoline) and group 4 (DHA+citicoline).

Mean defect was found to significantly improve in only the patients taking DHA combined with citicoline, suggesting a synergistic effect of the two compounds on ganglion cell function. Additionally, the visual field indices slope significantly improved within this group.

Uncovering the potential of NAD+ ​for healthy aging

ChromadDex’s External Research Program (CERP) promotes bioscience advancement through the study of the company’s patented nicotinamide riboside (NR) ingredient, which mirrors the strong current interest in the science exploring nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) within the healthy aging space.

The company’s randomized controlled trial​ involved 20 participants with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who received either NR 1,500 mg twice daily or a placebo for four weeks. The NR intervention was found to be associated with clinical improvements in scores assessing the clinical severity of PD, which was measured using the Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS).

The researchers highlighted that the findings supported the future study of an increased NR dosage of 3,000 mg per day within phase II clinical trials.

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