DSM dishes $6.5m to personalise nutrition

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dsm Genetics Nutrition

DSM has re-affirmed its commitment to the innovative field of
personalized nutrition, pledging $6.5m (€5.4) in follow-on funding
to US nutrigenomics company Sciona.

The latest funding from DSM Venturing, the venturing unit of Royal DSM, means the Dutch company is now a major shareholder in Sciona. Its initial investment was in September 2004.

Personalized nutrition has been identified as one of DSM's 'emerging business areas', as the one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition is no longer seen as fulfilling all the needs of an increasingly health conscious and ageing population that is determined to remain healthy for longer.

It falls under the broader banner of nutrigenomics - a scientific term coined only in 1999 which also involves the development of new nutrients and understanding of how they work in the human body.

For DSM, this new area is regarded as a good fit with its existing strengths in nutrition, food, and biotechnology.

A spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com that the two companies have been "exploring areas of cooperation and expect to start a joint development programme soon"​.

She said that the focus will be on the areas in which DSM is already active: that is, fitness, wellness and metabolic syndrome.

Chief innovation officer Rob van Leen said that the increased shareholding will allow DSM accelerate its activities in personalized nutrition. To this end, DSM will place a representative on Sciona's supervisory board.

However no precise time-line to bring products to market has been revealed. "It will take some time to come up with products and applications,"​ said the spokesperson.

DSM's is investing in four emerging business areas in all, to prepare for market needs beyond 2010. As part of its Vision 2010 strategy unveiled in October 2005, DSM has set the ambition aim of €1 bn in sales from innovation by the end of the decade.

The human genomics project has made a number of gene sequences available for use in nutrition research, and there is considerable evidence to link small changes in DNA with the development of chronic disease.

Sciona, which focuses on nutrition, skincare and sports and fitness, has 19 genes or 'snips' patented, and it is anticipated that DSM will have access to this intellectual property in the future.

Sciona also develops genetic tests that can help individuals make nutritional and lifestyle choices matched to their genetic profiles, such as NutritionScreen, which provides nutritional advice based on a person's genetic data and lifestyle.

Exactly how this will translate into sales for DSM is unclear at this stage, but it opens up opportunities to personalise products, shape development of new products, create demand for supplements, or even drive the group towards diagnostics.

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