Out of the ordinary: ice cream

A group of New Zealand scientists has developed a new therapeutic to help cancer patients recover from chemotherapy. Development of the ice cream, named ReCharge, began 8 years ago with the formation of LactoPharma, a collaborative research venture between the University of Auckland, the New Zealand government, and the country's largest dairy company, Fonterra Ltd. One milk protein in particular, lactoferrin, has been shown to inhibit tumour growth, promote intestinal cell growth, and regulate immune response in the intestine. The scientists reasoned it could thus help patients receiving chemotherapy, which can damage normal cells that multiply quickly, such as infection-fighting neutrophils, and intestinal cells. A lipid fraction found in milk exerts similar effects. The scientists worked with Fonterra to create 6 tons of strawberry-flavoured ReCharge. They then made a placebo ice cream with the same taste, colour, and calorie count. ReCharge started its Phase II clinical trial in October 2009, in which 200 prechemotherapy cancer patients ate 100 g of ReCharge or the placebo ice cream each day. Freezing ensures that the bioactive ingredients remain stable.