The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is to provide a novel approach to improve the stability and bioavailability of beneficial health-promoting ingredients (such as nutraceuticals and vitamins) in the food, supplement, cosmetic, and pet nutrition industries. Manufacturing companies using high-value ingredients are facing the problem of loss of bioactive ingredients during processing. The proposed innovation can reduce the loss by protecting bioactive components from the environmental stresses products experience during processing, transport, and storage, thus increasing economic value, improving food sustainability, and improving efficacy. Furthermore, the technology can also increase the absorption of health-promoting components into the human body, thereby increasing their efficacy. The proposed innovation provides a safe and cost-effective method of improving the bioavailability of bioactive agents through oral administration.

This I-Corps project is based on an encapsulation technology utilizing food-grade biopolymers to create cross-linked protective membranes around bioactive-loaded food particles. Advantages include the ability to endure environmental stresses such as extreme pH values, high salt concentrations, freezing and thawing; and improving the bioavailability and absorption of bioactive compounds from food. Food-grade ingredients can be used to assemble colloidal delivery systems to protect bioactives from the harsh conditions foods experience during their shelf life as well as during passage through the gastrointestinal tract. Moreover, they can be used to target bioactive agents to specific tissues. For instance, preliminary studies have shown that the bioaccessibility of curcumin can be increased by 80% using the proposed technology compared with existing products on the market. The proposed technology can therefore increase efficacy, reduce costs, and extend the shelf life of health-promoting functional foods.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
United States
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