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Nestlé links with US human cell supplier to advance nutrition research

By Shane Starling+

08-Jan-2014
Last updated on 09-Jan-2014 at 16:08 GMT

NIHS: “The cell products supplied by CDI include a variety of cell types that will benefit several areas of investigation at the Institute including Metabolic Health, Gastro-intestinal Health and Brain Health...
NIHS: “The cell products supplied by CDI include a variety of cell types that will benefit several areas of investigation at the Institute including Metabolic Health, Gastro-intestinal Health and Brain Health..."

Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) has inked a deal with a Wisconsin-based biotech firm that will keep it in supply of human brain and liver cells for nutrition testing purposes with a focus on drinks, smoothies and other products targeting diabetes and obesity.

NIHS will gain access to Cellular Dynamics International’s (CDI) iCell offerings that include cardiomyocytes, neurons, hepatocytes, and endothelial cells, “with numerous other cell types in development.”

The Swiss food giant was keen to highlight the fact the cells are derived from adult-sourced, “reprogrammed [from a] non-embryonic terminally differentiated cell type” which avoided, “the controversial and ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cells whilst serving as excellent models of human cellular and tissue physiology from healthy and disease states.”

Bob Palay, CDI chief executive officer welcomed his firm's expansion into nutrition. "Our customers already benefit from a reliable supply of human [cells] and human differentiated cells for their biomedical research and drug discovery. This supply agreement with NIHS adds nutritional research as yet another field that will benefit from CDI's products and expertise."

NIHS and CDI have already worked together and presented some of the work at the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the 11th Annual Meeting and at the EASD Islet Study Group (ISG) Annual Meeting.

NIHS added: “The cell products supplied by CDI include a variety of cell types that will benefit several areas of investigation at the Institute including Metabolic Health, Gastro-intestinal Health and Brain Health and will facilitate building the Institute’s platform for developing relevant cellular models of health and disease.”

Nestlé research investments

NIHS scientists. Source: Flickr

Based at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, NIHS kicked into life at the end of 2012. Its stated mission is to provide a scientific rationale for targeted nutritional medical products to help manage health problems including diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.

The launch of the NIHS is the latest in a line of research focused moves from Nestlé including the initial establishment of Nestlé Health Science in 2011, the centralisation of clinical research efforts at its Clinical Development Unit in 2012 , and the extension of research efforts at its Product Technology Centre in Konolfingen, Switzerland – which focuses on the development of infant formula, dairy products and medical nutrition.

Nestlé also opened a new Research & Development Centre in Manesar, India in 2012.

Last year Nestlé purchased medical foods specialist, Pamlab.

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