Wake Forest University School of Medicine said it has licensed three soy-related technologies to Physicians Laboratories of Kernersville, which will use the technologies to develop nutraceutical products.
Aaron T. Tabor MD, president and medical director of Physicians Laboratories, said the company planned to start clinical trials soon on using soy to slow memory loss.
The technologies were originally developed by Thomas B. Clarkson, professor of pathology (comparative medicine) and other members of the Comparative Medicine Clinical Research Center at Wake Forest, and were based on 15 years of research on plant oestrogens and more than 45 years of research on atherosclerosis.
As well as memory loss, the plant oestrogens have been used in hormone replacement therapy and in preventing endometriosis, a cause of infertility, Wake Forest said.
Physicians Laboratories already markets soy protein on its web site under the Revival brand name as dietary supplements, which are not as heavily regulated as nutraceuticals.
The initial study on soy and prevention of memory loss will be a pilot study involving 25-50 patients in nursing homes. "If the results are promising, we would look to expand that trial greatly through our own funding and government funding," Tabor said
He added that the company was planning clinical trials for the other two technologies. "We want to develop a product for the nutritional management of endometriosis," he said. "That would be one of the claims we would hope to win for the second soy patent."
The third study will compare soy combined with hormone replacement therapy against hormone replacement therapy alone, with the goal of increasing bone density or lowering cholesterol. There may also be research into using soy as a possible treatment for breast cancer.
The company has focused on clinical trials, Tabor said, and has about ten under way, but continues to sell its soy products as supplements. Tabor said with dietary supplements, the company can make structure or function claims - such as soy promotes healthy cholesterol levels or soy lowers the risk of heart disease or soy promotes healthy memory - but not treatment claims, as it will be able to do with the nutraceutical products, providing the trials prove that the soy products have a positive effect.