An internationally-recognised scientist, Dr Guan continues to lead her research field.

Her research highlight is the discovery of the protective effects of IGF-1 and its metabolites GPE and cGP after acute brain injury, and in chronical neurological conditions in animal models.

Dr Guan has collaborated with academics around the world over the last 20 years. In New Zealand, institutions including University of Otago, Canterbury University and Auckland University of Technology on a myriad of topics including biological changes of brain ageing, cognitive impairment of ageing, and developing markers for Parkinson’s Disease. She also worked with the National Institute for Stroke & Applied Neurosciences (Auckland University of Technology) on the biomarkers of long-term recovery of stroke, and prognosis of brain injuries.

Internationally, her cGP-related research is extensive and global in nature with leading academics from Sweden, the United States, Spain, China and Russia.
Specific cGP-related research topics include:

  • cGP in improving brain development.

  • Biological interactions of cGP and IGFBPs.

  • The effects of cGP on recovery from peripheral neuropathy.

  • The mechanism of cGP on regulating IGF-1 function.

  • Effects of cGP in cancer.

  • Association of cGP with cognitive function in the elderly.

  • The role of cGP in stroke recovery in humans.

  • The role of cGP in pregnancy-associated hypertension and obesity.

  • Mechanism of cerebral radiation-induced brain injury.

  • The effect of cGP on mood (depression and anxiety)

  • The effect of cGP in Rett syndrome.

  • The function of cGP in vascular remodelling (rebuilding the microcirculation)

  • The role for IGF-1 in vascular degeneration of PD brains.

Current Projects

Metabolic syndrome is defined by a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol and are often accompanied with complications such as peripheral neuropathy. All these symptoms individually and collectively contribute to a reduced quality of life.

Peripheral Neuropathy (the loss of sensation in the limbs) is the biggest cause of amputations with currently no treatment. Research suggests that people with metabolic syndrome, especially those with high blood pressure, have low levels of cGP in their blood circulation.

This open label trial aims to evaluate the use of natural food-based cGP supplementation to facilitate blood flow to the limbs and improve sensory function in people with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy.

Specific cGP-related
research topics
include testing:

cGP in improving brain development in pre-mature infants.

Physical interactions of cGP and IGFBPs.

The effects of cGP on recovery from peripheral injury.

The mechanism of cGP on regulating IGF-1 function.

Preventive effects of cGP in cancer.

cGP concentration in breast milk and lactating mothers.

cGP in neonatal intra-cerebral hemorrhage.

Lipid Emulsion as Novel Treatments for Cerebral Radiation Necrosis.

Mechanism of cerebral radiation-induced brain injury.

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1990 - 1995
Dr. Jian’s research journey began by understanding IGF-1 and its role in neuroprotection and neurorepair. During her quest to uncover the brain-made mechanisms to reduce damage after suffering a brain injury, she discovered GPE (Glycine-Proline-Glutamate).

GPE is a metabolite that is yielded by the enzymatic breakdown of IGF-1 and further research into GPE suggested that it has neuroprotective benefits that helped in recovery from stroke. Thus, highlighting its therapeutic potential.

1995 - 2000
With the aim of focusing on GPE rather than IGF-1 as a much simpler model for protection against brain injury, NeuroNZ, the first university-based pharma company was formed to translate these findings into commercial research. NeuroNZ was later privatised to become Neuren Pharmaceuticals, a company that is now developing therapies for highly debilitating neurodevelopmental disorders that emerge in early childhood.

2000 - 2005
During her time at Neuren, Jian studied the effects of GPE on recovery from stroke. A deeper investigation into GPE suggested that it is unstable and therefore its structural analogue was used for the development of a drug by the company (now known as Daybue and recently been approved by FDA as a treatment for Rett Syndrome).

Continued research into IGF-1 metabolites led to the discovery of cGP (cyclic-glycine-proline), a small yet stable compound responsible for maintaining cognitive health. Jian conducted extensive studies in understanding this molecule, its mode of action and pharmacological profile.

She then conducted studies for the preclinical development of a cGP analogue on treating cognitive impairment (NNZ2591 - currently under trial by Neuren Pharmaceuticals).

2005 - 2010
Jian left her role at Neuren Pharmaceuticals to continue her work as an academic researcher. She focused on understanding the mechanism of cGP in normalising IGF-1 function and then studied broader clinical applications of cGP in age-related conditions affected by IGF-1 such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.  Concurrently, she conducted nutritional interventional studies to improve mental well-being in aged and developing brains and was involved in the development of an infant formula.

2010 - 2015
Jian continued her research of cGP in lactating mothers and spent time understanding the role of complex dairy lipids in brain development. Studies in animal models suggest the importance of cGP during early postnatal development.

2015 - 2020
Early in 2015, Jian discovered cGP in natural foods – NZ blackcurrants. A clinical trial using natural cGP supplement in Parkinson’s Disease patients suggested its bioavailability and efficacy in improving mood (anxiety/depression)

Later, using this information and with the aim of creating a range of nutraceuticals that deliver natural cGP- The cGP Lab Limited was founded.

2020 - 2025
cGP-PRo is the first ingredient of its kind that aims to deliver a standardised, daily dose of cGP to protect brain health and cognitive function.

1990 - 1995

1995 - 2000

2000 - 2005

2005 - 2010

2010 - 2015

2015 - 2020

2020 - 2025

Consultancy & Collaborations

Over the last 20 years in the capacity of scientific consultant for Auckland UniServices Ltd (a division of University of Auckland), Dr Guan has, and continues, to provide scientific expertise and technical support to organisations in New Zealand and offshore.

These include leading research projects through collaborations with Fonterra New Zealand, Neuren Pharmaceuticals (formerly NeuronZ Ltd), Living Cell Technologies and Pacific Brands as well as consultancy for Plant and Food Research NZ and Deer Velvet NZ.

Her research was funded mainly by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to support the commercial development in Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) totalling $12 million worth of funding.