The Technology

Understanding neurodegenerative diseases and food challenges can be considered the race of the century. With major impacts on health and economics, nations are struggling to sustainably feed their populations while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This comes at a high economic price and sometimes leads to the loss of precious human souls.

Malnutrition affects the developing countries as well as the developed ones; among which are the Netherlands and Germany. The European Commission and the Dutch government are spending billions of euros to assist the nutrition of both the young and old. A recent study led by the Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam) along with more than 20 partners and supported by European Commission shows that at least 13.5% of older adults living at home are malnourished or at risk of protein malnutrition. This can be 29.7%, according to the same study (ESPEN, 2019). 

Ageing populations’ neurodegenerative diseases are one of the major challenges of the 21st century. The United Nations estimates that the number of people suffering from age-related neurodegeneration will increase exponentially from 25.5 million in 2000 to an estimated 114 million in 2050.

The economic cost of brain disorders in Europe is estimated to exceed a massive €700 billion, including direct health care cost, direct non-medical cost and indirect cost (J. Olesena, 2012). Among them is Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which up until today, there is no cure or any method to slow down degradation in AD patients. The only available option is to slow down the symptoms. Hence, early prevention of the degradation will lead to better life quality (J. Olesena, 2012) (Hagl, 2015). Some research also suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in AD – as well as other neurodegenerative diseases. (Müller, et al., 2010) (Leuner, et al., 2007)

The Institute of Nutritional Sciences (INS) in Giesse, one of the institutes that conducted research on the benefits of one of Incr-Edible’s products, highlighted the challenge of neurodegenerative diseases.

Unlike most other tissues in the human body, the number of cells in the majority of the central nervous systems are limited. (Eckert, 2018)
Just like the rest of the body, these tissues and cells also age with time. When people grow older, movements, cognitive functions, and sensing ability may show decline in performance. Aging cells are affected by multiple factors of elevated oxidative stress. This decline is remarkably increased in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer diseases, among others, according to the NIS.

Multiple institutes including University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Faculty of Pharmacy in Cairo University, National Research Centre in Egypt with the support from the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) and the European Commission (EU-Egypt Research Development & Innovation Fund) conducted several research projects to develop foods supporting and promoting healthy aging. The research resulted in multiple promising findings on the benefits of stabilized Egyptian rice bran extract. More innovation was needed to produce these products on a large scale without compromising food safety as well as commercializing such products to reach the target population.

The Power of Rice Grain

During these projects, they looked at a part of the rice grain which is usually discarded in the milling (whitening) process of rice. Among these underutilized parts is the rice bran, a key component with a mixture of ferulic acid esters of triterpene alcohol and sterol, tocopherols and tocotrienols. (Eckert, 2018) Unfortunately, in Egypt and other places, the bran is usually discarded or used as animal feed due to its extreme instability.

The instability makes it rancid and deems this rich profile of bioactive components unusable. The first challenge was, thus, to stabilize the rice bran. An innovative thermal patented thermal treatment made it possible to store the rice bran for more than 6 months, a huge improvement compared to usually going rancid in 6-12 hours. Toxicity studies were carried out to ensure the safety of the product and proceed with the analysis of the bioactivity and develop it into a nutraceuticals product.

The ingredient was then tested to explore the potential health and preventive benefits. The research findings mention that mitochondrial dysfunction plays an important role in brain aging and has emerged to be an early event in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), contributing to neurodegeneration and the loss of physical abilities seen in patients suffering from this disease (Maximilian Pohland, 2018). They examined mitochondrial dysfunction in a cell culture model mimicking early AD stages. The data shows that these cells have impaired energy metabolism, low ATP levels, and decreased endogenous mitochondrial respiration. The data also shows that protein levels of PGC1α as well as of Mitofusin 1 were lower. The cells also showed increased mitochondrial content, probably due to an attempt to compensate the impaired mitochondrial function. The study then assessed the impact of stabilized rice bran extract (SRBE) (IncrXtract) on the effect of the mitochondrial function. Key components of the used extract include oryzanol, tocopherols, and tocotrienols, all of which have been found beneficial on mitochondrial function. The incubation of SRBE elevated ATP production and respiratory rates as well as PGC1α protein levels in PC12APPsw cells, thus improving the impaired mitochondrial function assessed in our cell.

By examining mitochondrial dysfunction in a cell culture model of Alzheimer’s disease (PC12sw cells) it showed that these cells have impaired energy metabolism, low ATP levels leading to decreased endogenous mitochondrial respiration. Furthermore, protein levels of PGC1α as well as Mitofusin 1 were decreased. PC12sw cells also showed an increased mitochondrial mass, probably an attempt to compensate for the impaired mitochondrial function.

Further, through examination and deliberate research, it was proven that SRBE may help the brain nerve cells for better respiration, better function and hence protection of the brain nerve cells from early aging.

Altogether, SRBE shows strong mitochondria-protective effects in cultured cells, might be suitable for the prevention of age-related neurodegeneration and AD and should be further investigated in appropriate animal and human trials. Ultimately, ethanolic RBE could be a functional ingredient for nutraceuticals that could easily be included in daily eating habits.

A myriad of reputable institutions have worked together to reach these findings. This is next to research done by other institutions in countries such as the United States and Japan.

Scientific Data sources and institutes 

Nutritional Data Analysis, by National Research Center in Egypt

Potential Health Benefits, by Faculty of Pharmacy Cairo University in Egypt

Potential Health Benefits, by Westfalische Wilhelms University in Munster, Germany

Potential Health Benefits, by Johann von Goethe University in Germany

Safety Assessment, by German University in Cairo

Safety Assessment, by VivaCell Biotechnology in Germany

Pesticide Analysis & Heavy Metal Analysis, by Ministry of Agriculture in Egypt

Non-Generic Manipulation Certificate, by Rice Research Centre in Egypt