Curtin University researchers are developing a commercially viable way to turn lupin seed waste into a treatment for high blood glucose, benefiting people with Type 2 diabetes. The research collaboration will allow Curtin food scientists, chemical engineers and biomedical scientists to develop new technology to extract high purity gamma-conglutin — a naturally occurring protein derived from lupins that could control blood glucose levels.
The Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme has provided $310,000 to the research project, with an additional $120,000 pledged by partner organisation Lupintel.
“This internationally competitive research project could transform the undervalued Australian lupin industry, by providing a new commercial use for the high-protein legume crop, as well as delivering a new and natural treatment for Type 2 diabetes,” said Professor Chris Moran, Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
The research project will be led by Associate Professor Stuart Johnson, a Food Technologist from the Agriculture and Food discipline of Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences.
“Our aim is to develop the technology to make the extraction of high-volume and high-purity gamma conglutin from lupins both cost-effective and streamlined for farmers, then turn that product into a treatment supplement which may lower blood glucose levels and therefore may be used by people with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes allowing for less dependence on pharmaceutical drugs,” Johnson said.
The project will provide many benefits to farmers by adding a premium to their crop value, while a new gamma-conglutin purification technology will be available for processors, allowing them to commercialise.
The lupins produced in Australia are primarily used as stock feed, and for human consumption.
A Western Australia-based business has tapped into the market for lupins, manufacturing sweet lupin chip snack products sold in Thailand and Australia. WA Lupins’ Pinare Lupin Chips snacks are made from a blend of lupins and Thai Jasmine rice, and are targeted at health-conscious consumers. The company is also reported to be looking into creating packaging from the lupin shells.