Wageningen, the Netherlands—NutriLeads has announced the publication of a clinical trial demonstrating that its branded ingredient BeniCaros helps support immune responses against Rhinovirus infection, the virus responsible for the common cold.

BeniCaros is a carrot-derived rhamnogalacturonan-I (cRG-I)—a polysaccharide upcycled from carrot pomace, a byproduct of carrot juice production.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was published in Nutrients.146 healthy adults participated, and were given a placebo, .3g BeniCaros, or 1.5g BeniCaros for eight weeks, after which they were exposed to a standardized dose of an attenuated rhinovirus via the nose. Those who took .3g BeniCaros had significantly accelerated protective innate immune and antiviral responses, resulting in a 20% reduction in severity of symptoms and a 25% reduction in symptom duration, as compared both to the placebo group and the 1.5g BeniCaros group.

René Lutter, Ph.D., Principal Investigator at the Amsterdam UMC, who runs the rhinovirus challenge model in collaboration with NIZO, commented in a press release: “The impact of cRG-I on the immune response observed in this nutritional intervention study is the biggest that I have ever seen with this model. It is clinically relevant and especially exciting because fast innate antiviral and immune responses are important for limiting infections with respiratory viruses.”

The researchers were uncertain as to the exact mechanism of action for BeniCaros, but proposed a dual mechanism: First, it passes the upper gastrointestinal tract intact, where it primes or trains immune cells including macrophages and dendritic cells. Second, cRG-I is fermented in the lower gastrointestinal tract, affecting the gut microbiome by generating active metabolites such as short chain fatty acids.

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Ruud Albers, Ph.D., CSO of NutriLeads, said in the press release: “This publication is the culmination of extensive work by numerous people over ten years, and I am grateful to all involved for their dedication. The unique design of this trial was essential to demonstrate that consumption of cRG-I as a dietary supplement accelerated protective antiviral immune responses, reducing the symptoms triggered by a standardized infection with a common cold virus. With increasing awareness of immune health over the past years, the discovery that cRG-I trains the immune system to respond faster when needed, is timely and particularly relevant. These exciting results fully support our earlier findings with cRG-I and play an important role in supporting the launch of BeniCaros (cRG-I) immune health ingredient. This publication is a significant milestone for the company as we progress in our mission to unlock the potential of clinically proven food ingredients.”