A conference on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and its potential health benefits will be held in Italy later this month.
The International Congress on CLA is designed to update researchers with the current research around CLA. Lectures and talks will be held on its interaction with other nutrients, and CLA's role in inflammation and cardiovascular health.
Professor Sebastiano Banni, president of the congress, said "published research on CLA has grown steadily with an increment of about 30 per cent per year. Despite this growth the mechanisms of action which explain its biological activities have not been well defined as yet.
"With hundreds of papers published every year it is becoming very difficult to keep track of new data and to comprehend, evaluate and retain the main findings. In addition, since the possibilityto obtain pure isomers has become widely available research has been focused on the distinct biological activity of single isomers."
CLA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, a natural part of the human diet found primarily in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals such as cattle.
Commercially-produced CLA as oil or water-dispersible powder is available as a health product ingredient, used mainly in food supplements, with the market expected to grow over the next few years.
According to a 2007 Frost & Sullivan report, the CLA global market is forecast to reach revenues of US$109.9 million in 2013.
Furthermore, as the number of clinical studies on CLA rises, consumer awareness is also expected to increase, and drive market growth further, the conference organisers said.
The uses of CLA outside of the supplement market have also begun to be felt. In July Cognis applied for permission to use its weight management product Tonalin, which contains CLA, as a food ingredient. The group said it was the first to apply for novel food permission to use CLA in this way.
CLA is available under licence from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and companies have been prepared to fight for the right to use the ingredient. Already this year a lawsuit has filed over patent breaches. This May Norwegian biotech Natural and ArkoPharma reached a settlement in a patent infringement lawsuit relating to Natural's patents on CLA.
Natural has the exclusive licensing rights to the use of CLA in dietary supplements as covered by the patents developed by at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (WARF).
Professor Michael Pariza, the director of the food research institute at WARF, will also be at the congress.