The OxC-beta story begins with ß-carotene and the potential role it plays beyond being an important source of vitamin A. Avivagen’s interest in this field was stimulated by studies published in the early 1980s on the impact of fruit and vegetable intake upon chronic diseases associated with aging.

A member of the carotenoid family, ß-carotene is best known as an important source of dietary vitamin A. In the early 1980’s, however, a correlation was first reported between dietary ß-carotene intake and a reduction in chronic diseases of aging, including cancer and heart disease.



This observation was significant because the observed health benefits couldn’t be attributed to vitamin A alone – there was something else at play. The question we asked was “What is it we are missing that is responsible for the non-vitamin A benefits?”

Unlocking Nature’s Secret

Our research into ß-carotene not only confirmed how susceptible it, and other carotenoids, are to reacting spontaneously with oxygen, it also led to the discovery of the existence of a previously-unrecognized class of compounds that are formed as copolymers with oxygen. These compounds were found to account for a staggering 85% of the reaction products. It was surprising that during the decades of scientific research by others into various aspects of the oxidation of β-carotene that such a large fraction of the reaction products had escaped notice.

In a second discovery, it was found that the copolymer compounds are immunologically active, thereby providing a highly plausible origin for the non-vitamin A benefits of β-carotene. Subsequently we have shown that analogous oxygen copolymer compounds occur in carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetable products.

We named the fully oxidized β-carotene mixture containing mostly β-carotene copolymers, OxBC, which is the active ingredient and basis of the OxC-beta™ technology (“OxC-beta”). In the years since our discoveries we’ve shown that OxC-beta products impart a range of impressive health-promoting benefits to animals and potentially humans.

OxC-beta Is An Innovative, Compelling Alternative To Traditional Solutions

Our initial screening of OxBC for immunological activity using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) revealed that OxBC exhibits an array of activities, consistent with both enhancing immune defence against pathogens and limiting inflammation (2).

Results obtained both in clinical trials in dogs and in in vitro studies support the notion that OxBC helps support innate immune function and limits inflammatory responses, with the net result of an improvement in general overall health.

Of note, in companion animals, OxBC supports vitality and energy, mobility and joint function, as well as a healthy skin, coat and gut. With skin and joint conditions representing four of the top six reasons owners take their dogs to the veterinarian, Avivagen is excited to be able to offer a scientifically-supported alternative to conventional therapies, but without the side effects of many medications.

Clinical and field trial results observed in food animals, including swine, poultry and cattle, are very encouraging, indicating healthier growth, better utilization of feed and decreased morbidity. With an urgent global need for non- antibiotic replacements in food-producing animals, OxBC is a viable and compelling solution for producers to simultaneously promote animal health, feed efficiency and growth, without the concern of contributing to antibiotic resistance.

Our Science Is Backed by Peer-Reviewed Publications

Canadian Journal of Chemistry Cover

Our first peer-reviewed paper was published in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry in 2014 (1). This paper reported the novel discoveries made by Avivagen’s scientists and collaborators concerning aspects of the chemistry and biology of ß-carotene.

These findings relate beyond β-carotene to the entire family of 600 or more carotenoids, including common health supplements such as ß-carotene, lycopene, lutein and astaxanthin. Although popularly believed to act as an antioxidant, our discoveries bring to light the ability of ß-carotene to be transformed by spontaneous oxidation into products that collectively demonstrate potential for beneficial effects upon immune function.


A second paper, published in the leading journal PLOS ONE in 2014, provides underlying scientific support for the immunological activity of OxBC (2). Read the paper online or download the PDF.


In a third paper, The American Journal of Veterinary Research published a collaborative study in 2014 (3), independently designed and conducted by the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, that reported the effects of OxC-beta in a model of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), noting that OxBC promotes the resolution of disease-induced inflammation without otherwise disrupting immune response to infection. The publication concludes that OxBC could be a novel nutritional strategy that may confer benefits for cattle with respiratory tract disease.

Our fourth and most recent paper was published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2016 (4). The article describes the discovery in various common human foodstuffs of meaningful amounts of naturally-occurring counterparts to OxBC. The findings have far-reaching nutritional implications for β-carotene and other carotenoids, and support the safety of the copolymer compounds that are the basis of Avivagen’s OxC-beta™ Technology.


(1) Burton, G. W.; Daroszewski, J.; Nickerson, J. G.; Johnston, J. B.; Mogg, T. J.; Nikiforov, G. B. ß-Carotene autoxidation: oxygen copolymerization, non-vitamin A products and immunological activity. Can. J. Chem. 2014, 92, 305-316. DOI: 10.1139/cjc-2013-0494 (Open Access).

(2) Johnston, J. B.; Nickerson, J. G.; Daroszewski, J.; Mogg, T. J.; Burton, G. W. Biologically active polymers from spontaneous carotenoid oxidation. A new frontier in carotenoid activity. PLoS ONE 2014, 9, e111346 (Open Access).

(3) Duquette, S. C.; Fischer, C. D.; Feener, T. D.; Muench, G. P.; Morck, D. W.; Barreda, D. R.; Nickerson, J. G.; Buret, A. G. Anti-inflammatory benefits of retinoids and carotenoid derivatives: retinoic acid and fully oxidized β-carotene induce caspase-3-dependent apoptosis and promote efferocytosis of bovine neutrophils. Am. J. Vet. Res. 2014, 75, 1064-1075 (an abstract of the article is available at

(4) Burton, G. W.; Daroszewski, J.; Mogg, T. J.; Nikiforov, G. B.; Nickerson, J. G. Discovery and Characterization of Carotenoid-Oxygen Copolymers in Fruits and Vegetables with Potential Health Benefits. J Agric Food Chem 2016, 64, 3767-3777 (Open Access).