Tipperary man central to ground-breaking eye health research

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Ground-breaking eye health research carried out by Waterford team

Prof John Nolan and Dr Marina Green-Gomez at the NRCI, which is based at Carriganore House in Waterford

A new formulation can greatly increase the efficacy of nutritional supplements that are increasingly recognised for their value to eye health.

That’s the key finding of research published this week by a team led by Dr Marina Green-Gomez at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) in the School of Health Science at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

Titled COAST (Carotenoid-Omega Availability Study), the research compared bioavailability of key carotenoids when they were taken as microcrystals suspended in sunflower or omega-3 oil with a new method of delivery. In the innovative Micro-Micelle formulation, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin travelled more efficiently into the bloodstream, increasing the bioavailability and impact of these carotenoids.

Speaking about the research, Dr Green-Gomez said: “Previous NRCI research showed that these carotenoids along with lutein improve vision in the general population and those with age-related macular degeneration.

“This work set out to examine how best to achieve those positive benefits consistently for all those taking the supplements. Eighty-one volunteers were recruited for the research, which was funded by WIT President’s PhD Scholarship Programme, Howard Foundation (UK) and Industrial Organica (Mexico). Now published in the Swiss-based, peer-reviewed open access journal Antioxidants, the findings provide high-quality evidence to the field, supporting the role of targeted nutrition for human function.”

The senior author on the paper was NRCI founder Prof John Nolan, who is from Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary. He said: “This ground-breaking research really is disruptive science in the best sense where emerging technology and new knowledge are applied to boost the effectiveness of proven supplements. The real-world impact of this research is underlined by how the new formulation is being commercialised in the U.S. by MacuHealth and in Europe by MacuPrime.”

Commenting on the publication, WIT Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies vice-president Dr Mark White said: “This calibre of research by a strong international team is something WIT and the wider community in Waterford and the South East should be very proud of. This is work of real and enduring value that builds on an excellent track record at one of our most prolific research centres.”

Along with Dr Green-Gomez and Prof Nolan, the research team also included Dr Alfonso Prado-Cabreror, Dr Rachel Moran, Tommy Power and Jim Stack from NRCI, and Dr Laura Gómez-Mascaraque from the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Fermoy, County Cork.