VANCOUVER, May 04, 2004 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- Burcon NutraScience Corporation (TSX-VEN: BU) announced today that it has entered into a research collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute (Fraunhofer Institut Verfahrenstechnik und Verpackung, Freising Germany) to investigate certain potential health benefits of Burcon's canola proteins Supertein(TM) and Puratein(R).
On Burcon's behalf, the Fraunhofer Institute will conduct experiments to characterize certain bio-functional properties of Burcon's protein products, Supertein(TM) and Puratein(R), with respect to potential value-added health benefits. Blood cholesterol lowering activity (bile acid binding) and the antioxidant activity of virgin canola proteins and partly modified canola proteins are the two main areas that will be investigated. These properties will be investigated through in vitro (test tube) studies, which will look for positive correlations to known in vivo (living organism) studies. Investigative procedures will include testing against standard food ingredients and selected pharmaceuticals as benchmarks.
Consumer research continues to indicate a quest for healthier foods. Surveys show that a large majority of today's shoppers factor health reasons into their food choices. This trend has translated into significant growth in the functional foods market worldwide. Functional foods are any food that may provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition.
Burcon is pursuing this research as it shows promise for increasing the future demand for canola proteins. As a direct comparison, soy food sales have increased dramatically over the past few years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in 1999, gave food manufacturers permission to put labels on products high in soy protein indicating that these foods may help lower heart disease risk.
'This research could expand the consumer appeal of our products,'stated Johann F. Tergesen, Burcon's President &COO. 'We are continually looking for ways to increase the potential applications and consumer appeal of Puratein(R) and Supertein(TM). It will benefit Burcon and ADM, our partner, if this research leads to greater future sales of our proteins.'
As previously announced, Burcon entered into a license and development agreement in September 2003 with Archer Daniels Midland ('ADM') to take Puratein(R) and Supertein(TM) to market. During the past two quarters, Burcon and ADM's teams have made important progress in their development timetable. A major part of that effort has been focused on process identification, namely: the development of an optimized pilot facility at Burcon's Winnipeg Technical Centre. That work is nearing completion and in short, the project is on schedule and on budget.
Additional work has been conducted by Burcon and ADM in the areas of marketing, site selection and applications development. During the same period, external market forces have continued to trend in favour of a revolutionary alternative plant protein such as Burcon's canola products. Firstly, the price of animal protein has continued to rise with the most notable being dried egg white, which is currently at an all-time high. Secondly, the publicity surrounding the recent cases of avian bird flu and new BSE outbreaks have further fuelled consumers'desires for plant-based alternatives to animal products.
Burcon additionally announces that Michael Kirwan, SVP of Corporate Development, will now also assume the role of corporate communications.
Founded in 1949, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft maintains roughly 80 research units, including 58 Fraunhofer Institutes, at over 40 different locations in Germany. A staff of some 12,700, predominantly qualified scientists and engineers, work with an annual research budget of over 1 billion euros. Of this sum, more than (euro) 900 million is generated through contract research. Through their work, they aim to promote the successful economic development of industrial society, with particular regard for social welfare and environmental compatibility.
About Burcon NutraScience
Burcon is a research and development company developing a portfolio of composition, application and process patents around its plant protein extraction and purification technology. The goal of Burcon's research is to develop its patented process to utilize inexpensive oilseed meals for the production of purified plant proteins that exhibit valuable nutritional, functional or nutraceutical profiles. Burcon, in conjunction with Archer Daniels Midland, is currently focusing its efforts on developing the world's first commercial canola proteins, Puratein(R) and Supertein(TM). Canola, recognized for its nutritional qualities, is the second-largest oilseed crop in the world after soybeans. Burcon's goal is to develop Puratein and Supertein to participate with soy, dairy and egg proteins in the expanding multi-billion-dollar protein ingredient market, with potential uses in prepared foods, nutritional supplements and personal care products.