Omega-3 research in Sioux Falls gains worldwide reach

This piece is presented by South Dakota Biotech.

A single drop of blood is all it takes to determine your omega-3 index.

That’s key for a lot of reasons:

  • Omega-3s are important for heart, brain and joint health.
  • Most Americans have low levels of omega-3s in their blood.
  • Low levels of omega-3s are related to increased risk for fatal heart attack, depression and possibly dementia.

The only way to know your omega-3 level is by measuring it.

Bill Harris, founder of OmegaQuant

That’s what Dr. Bill Harris set out to do years ago. His work has grown into the thriving but quiet biotech company OmegaQuant, which he founded in 2009 and continues to lead.

“We’re more scientists than marketers. We don’t like to toot our own horn,” general manager Jason Polreis said.

There’s a lot to celebrate, however.

The business at 5009 W. 12th St. has grown to nine employees and recently was involved in a study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. It found people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids had greater blood flow in certain regions of the brain that correlated to areas associated with learning, memory, depression and dementia.

“I think this is the first time I have ever seen it (research) relating blood flow to omega-3 levels,” Polreis said. “There’s a lot of data relating omega-3s to better health outcomes, so I think it was a relatively new finding that got people excited.”

OmegaQuant is in a commercial center on West 12th Street.

OmegaQuant is increasing its sample volume every month, he added. Its blood test is the most popular, starting at $54.95. Clients receive a collection kit, pre-paid return envelope and a results report emailed within five days of receiving the blood sample.

Other tests also can measure trans fat levels and omega-3 DHA in breast milk.

“Where we see the most growth is where we partner with clients who market the test for self-diagnostic, at-home testing, but it’s also seeming to gain traction more in the medical community,” Polreis said.

“We’re starting to be a reference lab for a few labs in the U.S., and some labs are discussing taking the test into their lab.”

Harris also participates in 10 to 15 publications annually, Polreis added.

“It seems like there’s more research inquiries to measure research samples, which is good,” he said. “We do research projects on a contract basis for pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, government grants and nutraceutical companies like makers of supplements.”

Other recent research has shown higher omega-3 levels meant reduced risk of death from any cause, he said.

OmegaQuant also is working with the global Omega-3 Index Project and Know Your O campaigns, which are working to bring more awareness worldwide to omega-3 insufficiency.

“This company is a great example of what’s happening often under the radar in biotechnology in our state,” said Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech.

“The research Dr. Harris pioneered is a strong fit to help address a huge variety of health issues. The fact that it started in South Dakota and has worldwide implications is something to celebrate.”

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Omega-3 research in Sioux Falls gains worldwide reach

New research is showing more benefits for higher omega-3 levels — and a Sioux Falls company is leading the way.

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