Using enzymes to improve corn (maize)-based animal feeds and kelp-derived enzyme inhibitors to treat diabetes and obesity
The focus of my research group (Enzyme Science Programme-ESP) is on enzymes, enzyme biocatalysis, enzyme technology and biotechnology. We use enzymes such as xylanases, cellulases and other carbohydrate-modifying enzymes, often synergistically or in immobilised form (for example, cross-linked enzyme aggregates – CLEAs), to produce a range of bioproducts from biomass. Currently, we are using xylanases to break down the arabinoxylan component of the non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) component in corn (maize), with the aim of improving the access of the digestive systems of poultry and pigs to the nutrition within corn-based animal feeds. An additional aim of the xylanase supplementation is to generate prebiotic arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS) from these feeds. A second research program currently being conducted in my lab involves using enzymes to extract and produce anti-diabetic or anti-obesity bioactive compounds from brown seaweed (kelps, e.g. Ecklonia spp.). Kelp derived bioactives such as sulphated polysaccharides (fucoidans), alginates, phenolic compounds (phlorotannins), and carotenoids (fucoxanthins) inhibit key enzymes of human starch and fat metabolism (α-amylase, α-glucosidase, pancreatic lipase and dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 (DPP4)), allowing for the directed development of drugs with natural anti-diabetic and anti-obesity, as well as anti-cancer properties. In our scientific approach to the two research challenges above, we make use of several cutting-edge techniques in biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, and cell biology.
Last Modified: Wed, 17 Aug 2022 15:15:38 SAST