The Perna canalicula mussel possesses a profile of Omega-3 essential fatty acids which are unique to its species. The presence of this rich source of essential fatty acids provides the mussel with potent anti-inflammatory activity. This can be passed on to consumers only when the mussel is consumed fresh and raw. In its natural state the mussel thrives in coastal areas where there is a constant flow of ocean current. The mussel acts as a kind of filtration system extracting nutrients from the fresh sea water and dispelling the waste.
In 1970 a major research project was underway in the USA to discover a cure for various diseases and the scientists involved were screening shellfish from around the world including New Zealand Perna canalicula Mussel. Following this, considerable research began in order to verify that the mussel had anti-inflammatory activity.
Early study results were erratic and no consistent results could be determined. Naturally the sceptics were quick to slander the anti-inflammatory potential of the mussels. What the early researchers failed to realise was that the coastal Maoris ate the mussels fresh from the ocean and any other processing procedure like extreme heat, freeze drying and refrigeration without a stabilisation or anti-oxygenation process would promote oxidation of the active components, therefore dramatically lessening the mussel's potency.
This soon became the focal point for a research project to develop a method to stabilise the mussel meat. However, this procedure relies heavily on the freshness of the mussel meat. Therefore harvesting must be closely coordinated directly with the processing plant. The Perna canalicula mussel today is farmed commercially in New Zealand principally for the international food market. However, the percentage allocated to the development of therapeutic/nutriceuticals market is growing.
The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia (RMIT University) has recently completed 15 years of research into isolating the active lipids within the mussel. Headed initially by internationally renowned bio-medical research scientist Professor Robert Borland, the project has produced a remarkably potent compound named "Lyprinol®".