DSM Food Specialities is developing a new protein hydrolysate it claims has proven beneficial effects on mood, concentration and alertness.Pep2Balance, which is derived from egg protein, could potentially be marketed on several platforms, including improved cognitive performance, improved concentration for older people, improved hand-eye-coordination and reduced stress levels, predicted business unit director Rob Beudeker. "We've done two human trials that support these effects. Pep2Balance contains a unique high ratio between tryptophan and LNAA (large neutral amino acids), enabling increased uptake of tryptophan into the brain, where it can increase levels of serotonin."
Pep2Balance is the latest in a series of novel protein hydrolysates that DSM has developed via new enzymes from the Aspergillus Niger fungus that can chop up proteins from a variety of sources from casein and whey to egg, to create bioactive hydrolysates.
While Pep2Balance was still in the early stages of development, DSM was confident that there would be a market: "We've had a lot of interest from potential customers ," claimed Beudeker.
While some delegates questioned the science behind the product and whether there were validated biomarkers of 'mood', Beudeker said he was confident Pep2Balance's effects were both quantifiable and meaningful. Not only were there well-established methods for measuring reaction times, memory and other measures of mental acuity, but volunteers' subjective impressions of their mood could also be analysed alongside objective measures such as trypthophane in the blood and brain imaging, he added.
"We have reliable biomarkers for mood and cognition, type two diabetes, overweight, cardiovascular disease and eye health, but less reliable ones for gut health, cancers and chronic inflammation, which are equally prevalent."
The market for 'brain foods' is currently focused on drinks (especially tea) and confectionery, and is divided into three areas, according to Leatherhead Food International: energy boosting (guarana, caffeine, ginseng); improved brain function (omega-3, phosphatidylserine) and mood (green tea, tryptophan, GABA, gingko bilboa). Japan remains by far the biggest market, but there is growing interest in the US and western Europe.