Dr Helen Fitton: Marinova’s Fucoidan Expert
Marinova's cutting-edge research and development in fucoidan science is supported by the best minds in the field and Tasmania's impeccable environment
Tasmanian biotechnology company Marinova is the world leader in fucoidan science. Fucoidans occur naturally in the cell walls of brown seaweeds and help protect the plant against water-borne pathogens and environmental damage, but as Marinova’s Chief Scientist, Dr Helen Fitton, knows all too well – fucoidan also offers exciting benefits across a range of human health areas.
“Fucoidan-containing seaweeds have been prized for their dietary and therapeutic benefits for centuries in many Asian cultures. Here at Marinova, we’ve spent the past 20 years researching those health benefits and manufacturing a range of fucoidan extracts that are backed by credible science. The western world is now really starting to embrace the properties of this unique marine ingredient,” explains Dr Fitton.
High quality fucoidan is in demand for nutritional, pharmaceutical, medical device and cosmetic applications. Its properties are wide ranging and include digestive health, anti-cancer, anti-ageing, skin protection, cardiovascular health, viral inhibition and anti-inflammatory benefits. “Marinova is the world’s only producer of high purity, certified-organic fucoidan,” adds Dr Fitton. “We supply manufacturers across the globe who incorporate it into all manner of nutritional and therapeutic products, and leading research institutions who utilise it in collaborative studies.”
The rise of fucoidan in cancer research is of particular interest to Dr Fitton. “Recent research demonstrates not only that fucoidan itself can slow tumour metastasis, but furthermore it can enhance the therapeutic effects of conventional therapy and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Also encouraging is evidence that shows that fucoidan does not interfere with standard chemotherapy treatments – that’s very reassuring for both patients and physicians alike who need to know that any complementary therapies being taken are safe and do not cause adverse effects or interactions.”
Other manufacturers typically extract fucoidan by using harsh solvents that degrade the compound and reduce its bioactivity. Marinova developed a unique point of difference by creating an extraction process using advanced filtration technologies to separate and purify fucoidan without the use of chemical solvents. It is this proprietary process, and the exceptional quality of the seaweeds, that has established the Tasmanian firm as the global leader.
Nestled on the outskirts of Hobart, Marinova’s processing facility and laboratories are home to a dedicated team of scientists, technicians and international business experts. “They’re all passionate about progressive research and development, and committed to keeping Tasmanian scientific innovation firmly on the global stage,” says Dr Fitton of her colleagues. “This is a niche global market and we’re proud to be leading the way from Hobart.”
Sourcing their seaweeds sustainably is a high priority for Marinova, as is a deliberate move to becoming a legitimate zero-waste producer. “We hand harvest both here in Tasmania and also from certain sites overseas,” explains Dr Fitton. “Our Tasmanian location is a distinct advantage and our clients are very interested in environmental integrity. The cleanliness of Tasmanian waters certainly helps us produce a superior product.”
Once the fucoidan is extracted, both liquid and solid by-products are captured and converted into nutrient-rich organic additives for the horticultural sector. Nothing in the manufacturing process is wasted.
Migrating to Tasmania over 25 years ago from the United Kingdom, Dr Fitton hasn’t looked back. “It’s idyllic here,” she observes. “The move here provided me with an unsurpassed lifestyle and the ability to connect with an exciting scientific community. The marine research happening here is second to none and Tasmania has a well-deserved reputation for excellent research facilities, innovative scientists, a can-do attitude and a strong but flexible regulatory regime. I would certainly encourage others considering a move to take a close look at what’s on offer.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Further information about Marinova is available on the company’s website.