COULD seaweed hold clues to the secret of weight loss? Jessica Pahl believes so.

The Toowoomba university student hopes to carry out human trials within three years on a new anti-obesity pill after receiving a major bursary from the State Government towards the research.

Ms Pahl, who is studying her PhD at the University of Southern Queensland, will build on the previous research done by USQ and James Cook University on the links between different species of seaweed and weight loss.

The 22-year-old said the $45,000 Advance Queensland bursary she received from the government would go towards three rounds of testing on albino rats, under the supervision of Dr Sunil Panchal.

Jess Pahl, PHD student at USQ has received funding to continue her work into developing an obesity pill. May 2017
Jess Pahl, PHD student at USQ has received funding to continue her work into developing an obesity pill. May 2017 Bev Lacey

"We've already started doing animal studies and we're planning to do at least another three in the next year and a half," Ms Pahl said.

"Depending on those results, we definitely want to start planning for a human trial.

"My industry partner MBD Energy in Townsville is producing the seaweed and it also puts it into powder forms so I can give it to the rats.

"USQ and JCU have already done a lot of work together looking at seaweeds and obesity, and they got lots of exciting results.

"We're just expanding on that with different types of species and high quantities of fibre."

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Certain species of seaweed and algae contain antioxidants and fibre, which Ms Pahl said had demonstrated results in reducing obesity.

"Obesity is quite a complex condition, because there's such a thing called free radicals and reactive oxygen levels (and) antioxidants help reduce free radicals," she said.

"They know that fibre affects the gut microbacteria and they know there is a good link between fibre and obesity, but we don't know why yet.

"We definitely want to find out if something is happening and we'll be looking at the molecular changes to learn why it's happened."

The clinical trials have been funded by USQ, JCU, MBD and the State Government.

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