The division of the Swiss food and beverage giant has obtained the option to licence Phospha E for use in nutritional products from Australian biotech company Phosphagenics, in exchange for a contribution towards the costs of a preclinical study, prior to full-scale evaluation in humans.
Phospha E is patented vitamin E phosphate, said to protect the antioxidant potential of vitamin E during absorption, transport and storage in the body. It is currently only marketed in the US, Canada and Indonesia by Zila Nutraceuticals, which markets it as Ester-E.
Phosphagenics managing director Harry Rosen said: "Nestle Nutrition is the ideal partner to exploit the potential of Phospha E in nutritional products."
The amount of Nestle's contribution to the preclinical trial funding has not been revealed. If it decides to exercise its option on completion of the trial a fee will be payable, and it will have a 12 month window following regulatory approval of the product and claims within which to bring a product to market.
Metabolic syndrome is characterised by a collection of factors, including overweight/obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In the United States, as much as 27 percent of the adult population has metabolic syndrome. With expanding waistlines and unhealthy eating habits across the Western world, metabolic syndrome rates in other countries could be almost on a par.
Two animal studies have indicated that Phospha E could have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, supporting the move to human trials.
In the first, mice fed a high cholesterol diet plus Phospha E for eight weeks were seen to have 40 per cent lower LDL cholesterol after just two weeks, and 44 percent lower plasma triglyceride levels after four weeks.
In the second, the results announced in October 2005 showed up to a 44 per cent lowering of LDL cholesterol levels in the blood of mice fed a normal diet supplemented with Phospha E, and a 51 percent decrease in triglycerides.
In both studies, a comparison with a normal vitamin E showed no significant benefit.