Nutrition 21 has acquired patents covering drugs consisting of chromium and an anti-depressant. The nutritional ingredients producer acquired the technology from its inventor, Malcolm McLeod, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, for an undisclosed sum.
The company said that the two patents covered the use of chromium in increasing the effectiveness of antidepressants for relieving the symptoms of depression (US Patent No. 5,898,036) and premenstrual syndrome (US Patent No. 5,877,171).
Gail Montgomery, president and chief executive officer of Nutrition 21, said: "Nutrition 21 now owns the patents covering all forms of chromium for these exciting new uses. Dr McLeod's findings offer hope for an inexpensive treatment for depression and PMS, without side effects. We are now seeking pharmaceutical partners for this new technology."
Nutrition 21 is sponsoring an ongoing study at Duke University Medical Center to further substantiate the beneficial effects of chromium in mood regulation. The study is part of Nutrition 21's programme to enhance the value of its technology through pharmaceutical-quality research designed to support its products' marketing claims.
Depression afflicts an estimated 18 million people in the United States, the company said, with an estimated one out of eight people seeking treatment in the course of their lifetime. According to a recent survey by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (National DMDA), a patient-led advocacy group, 80 per cent of depressed people reported dissatisfaction with standard antidepressants due to troublesome side effects, and 81 per cent reported moderate to severe impairment despite treatment. Premenstrual syndrome is believed to affect between one-third and one half of all women between 20 and 50.