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Claire Miller, Impact and Partnership Development Manager - Health and Wellbeing

The thing I really enjoy about working with the Exeter team is their genuine passion, enthusiasm and energy.

I say that working with a number of universities and research studentships within the UK and Europe as well.

Dr Tim Finnigan, Chief Scientific Adviser, Quorn

 

Quorn: assessing the benefits of mycoprotein

Animal protein is great for muscle building, but we know a lot less about sustainably produced non-animal derived proteins.

Mycoprotein is the fungal protein source used in Quorn. Scientists at the University of Exeter are working with Quorn to understand how good it is for your muscles compared with animal-derived protein sources.

The team are comparing mycoprotein with milk protein, and have so far found it has “equivalent” bioavailability. This means important amino acids involved in muscle building become available in the blood after digesting the protein.

This could mean mycoprotein has equivalent muscle building properties to milk, supporting muscle growth in both younger and older people.

Dr Ben Wall and the team in the University of Exeter’s Sport and Health Sciences department worked with Innovation, Impact and Business to contact Dr Tim Finnigan, Quorn’s Chief Scientific Adviser, to express an interest in studying mycoprotein. After a successful pilot project, the relationship has now developed to two fully-funded PhD studentships, and further potential funding applications.

Having studied the bioavailability of mycoprotein in young people, the team now want to assess how good mycoprotein could be at combatting muscle loss in older people, and muscle building in exercisers and athletes.

The work could improve our understanding of how the body and muscles handle non-animal derived protein sources. It will also provide more information to businesses wishing to develop non-animal derived proteins, and inform people wanting to reduce their animal product consumption whilst maintaining or building muscle mass.

Reducing the consumption of animal protein could have a significant impact on the environment, too: the carbon footprint of mycoprotein is more than 90 per cent lower than that of beef.