VitaK, a Dutch research company, has been involved in research into vitamin K since the 1970s. It works in close association with the University of Maastricts's Cardiovascular Research Institute.
The main body of research on vitamin K2's has centered on bone health, but PLT brands manager Eric Anderson told NutraIngredients-USA.com that once the US cardiovascular patents are awarded, PLT will be able to market MenaQ7 for the specific claims that they cover.
The patent applications filed by VitaK are related to the use of K2 in nutraceuticals regarding cardiovascular disease/mortality and regression of arterial calcification, and the combinations of K2 and other nutrients such as omega-3.
Natto Pharma has formed a strategic alliance with VitaK that involves acquisition of these three patents, and entry into a five-year, multimillion dollar research initiative which will give it ownership of proprietary research and subsequent intellectual property.
Whilst bone health is still an important area for K2, Anderson said: "We think that cardiovascular health is the application for the future, since it affects so many Americans."
According to the American Heart Association, 33.1m (34.4 percent) of American men had some form of cardiovascular disease in 2003, the most recent year for which statistic are available, and 38.2m (33.9 percent) women.
One of the key pieces of research on K2 and cardiovascular health is the Rotterdam Study (Geleijnse et al, Journal of Nutrition 134: 3100-3105, 2004), which analyzed dietary data obtained from 4807 subjects between 1990 and 1993, who were then followed until January 2000.
The researchers observed that relative risk of coronary heart disease mortality was reduced in the mid and upper tertiles of dietary menaquinone compared to the lower tertile, and intake of menaquinone was inversely related to all-cause mortality and severe aortic calcification.
The researchers said their findings "suggest that an adequate intake of menaquinone could be important for CHD prevention".
In addition to the research to be promulgated as a result of this strategic alliance, PLT plans to educate the industry on MenaQ7's use for cardiovascular health, and market to consumers too.
PLT and Natto Pharma's MenaQ7 is natural vitamin K2 derived from natto, a fermented soy food commonly eaten in Japan which is rich in menaquinone-7, a highly bioavailable form of vitamin K2.