Adelaide Emus Making Tracks For Our
Medicine Cabinets: WCH Researchers
Unravel The Mysteries Of Emu Oil

Contact: Dr Edna Bates batese@wch.sa.gov.au
Women's and Children's Hospital

As early as 1860, a London academic publication described how the Aboriginal people and early Australian settlers used emu oil to heal wounds, reduce pain and relieve various muscular disorders. After 140 years, the emu is again displaying its feathers and enticing scientists to discover the secrets of its oil. Researchers at the Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide have been working, since February, on a project funded by the Australian Emu Farmers, to identify the active components in emu oil. This will enable standardisation of the product - something demanded of all successful modern industries. Professor Tony Ferrante, Head of Immunopathology at the hospital said, "There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that emu oil is effective as an anti-inflammatory agent in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but no scientific evidence of its efficacy. "Some of the fatty acids in emu oil are found in other oils, for example olive oil, but olive oil is not anti-inflammatory. There must be unique components in emu oil. "Our task now, is to identify these components. We already have some promising results suggesting the anti-inflammatory activity resides in a particular fraction of the oil. But we need to have biological as well as chemical analyses to complete the picture. This could take a number of years," he said. President of the South Australian Emu Farmers Association, Mr Chris Gregory said," For the emu farmers of Australia, the oil is the most important commodity, followed by the meat. "This is probably the first research undertaken where the knowledge is for the benefit of the whole industry. We are very confident that this research will help boost emu farming in Australia," he said. Emu oils from several different origins will be fractionated and the active components examined for both in vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory activity. Professor Ferrante's research group brings to the task an impressive reputation of some 20 years internationally acclaimed research into the immunology of a broad spectrum of inflammatory diseases. The group is responsible for the discovery of some unique effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids (a class of oils) on inflammation. Currently there are about 150 emu farmers in Australia, of which 45 are in South Australia. With standardisation, emu oil from diverse sources can be prepared with optimal activity, enabling consumer confidence in the product.

For interviews with Professor Ferrante or Chris Gregory please contact:
Dr. Edna Bates
Public Relations Officer
Tel: 618-8204-7388
email: batese@wch.sa.gov.au

Mrs. Chris Ostermann
Director of Media and Community Relations
Tel: mobile 0417-807-690

Women's and Children's Hospital http://www.wch.sa.gov.au