PREP’D gets ready to go a long distance

After 20 years of research by Flinders medical researchers, a new sports hydration drink called PREP’D is poised to be a super boost for athletes and the community.

The launch of PREP’D by the University’s commercialisation arm Flinders Partners in 2017-18 will be supported by a $142,000 early commercialisation grant from TechInSA, the State Government’s innovation agency.

PREP’D has been designed to prime the body for optimal fluid absorption using a special, food-grade resistant starch. It’s a two-part hydration system including a ‘pre-load drink’ consumed up to 18 hours before exertion, followed by a recovery drink for rapid rehydration.

“In an earlier clinical trial with the Adelaide Crows, PREP’D showed significantly better overall hydration compared with sports drinks and water,” says David Vincent from Flinders Partners.

TechInSA Chief Executive Mr Joe Thorp said the research and development behind the Flinders PREP’D sports hydration drink was reflective of the impressive innovation and energy happening across a range of industry sectors in South Australia.

“By encouraging and supporting ambitious South Australians to take their ideas through to commercial success, TechInSA is helping to create a future built upon innovation, technology and knowledge that will have profound benefits for all South Australians,” Mr Thorp said.

Pioneered by Flinders University Professor of Global Gastrointestinal Health, Graeme Young, and Professor Ian Brown, with international collaborators from Yale University and India, the product is backed by the latest research into severe dehydration.

“Our research has shown the resistant starch in PREP’D promotes improved fluid absorption in the large intestine, unlocking a largely untapped hydration potential of up to 5 litres per day,” Professor Young says.

Studies show a fluid loss of more than 2% in body weight is common during exercise or many sports which can reduce athlete performance by as much as 29%.

Dehydration makes it difficult for athletes to be on top of their game, reducing endurance capacity and muscle response. Dizziness and nausea from overheating and other more serious effects can follow.

Commercialisation Manager Mr Vincent is working with a number of individual athletes and sporting clubs to further refine the product and its packaging.

They include Flinders ONE sport scholarship recipients Tessa Manning, a second year biodiversity and conservation student and national women’s cyclocross competitor, and physiotherapy student Riley Cocks, who is heading to the World University Games in Taiwan next month to compete in the 10km endurance race in extreme humidity.

They joined fellow Elite Athlete Friendly University and Flinders ONE scholarship holder Lachlan Scott for a taste test at the Flinders Gym this week. Lachy is in training for the Australian cross-country championships in August and Australian University Games in September.

Fourth-year Education student Lachy Scott and long-distance runner, physio student Riley Cocks, give PREP’D a go on Channel 9 TV this week.

Inadequate fluid intake during extreme physical exercise and heat can take its toll.

“Despite the impact of dehydration on athletic performance being a well-understood problem in sports science, the formulation of sports drinks has barely advanced in the past 50 years,” Mr Vincent says.

“PREP’D changes all this by using resistant starch to increase the body’s hydration potential by up to 30%, allowing athletes to perform at their peak for longer.”

Mr Vincent says the TechInSA early commercialisation grant will be “invaluable to achieving our target of creating the new company and then raising at least $1 million in seed funding this year”.

“We’re excited at the prospect of launching our products into the $17 billion global sports drink market in early 2018,” he says.

Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Professor Robert Saint, says the PREP’D project is a “great testament to the high quality of innovative research at Flinders and our ability to translate this into community benefit”.

“We appreciate the State Government and TechInSA’s support for this exciting new technology which has been developed right here at Flinders and has the potential to become a major global brand,” Professor Saint says.

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