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.
This latest news involving the Swiss food giant brings closer the possibility of mainstream food products aimed at preventing or treating the syndrome.
An estimated 27 per cent of people having metabolic syndrome in the US, and as waist-lines are expanding across the Western world, other countries may not be far behind.
Governments around the world are encouraging preventative lifestyle measures to prevent an escalating drain on health care budgets. While part of this is a back-to-basics approach to nutrition and adequate exercise, it also opens up opportunities for food companies to develop ingredients and innovative products that could contribute to a solution.
Positive results for two pre-clinical trials on the effects of Phospha-E (to which Nestle contributed under the license option it signed with Nestle last April) were announced in December. These results were consistent with previous studies indicating that the specialised form of vitamin E reduced the specific biomarkers associated with metabolic syndrome, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
In addition, the studies established the most appropriate dose, which means that human clinical trials can now be initiated.
Under the terms of the option agreement, a fee is payable by Nestle for exercising its option, and it has a 12-month window following regulatory approval of the product and claims within which to bring a product to market.
In an announcement to the Australian stock exchange on Friday, Phosphagenics said that further details relating to the option will be released once Nestle's consent has been obtained.
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 (now owned by NBTY), which markets it as Ester-E.
Phosphagenics is constructing a new A$500,000 (c €294,000) facility for the manufacture of tocopheryl phosphates in Melbourne, Australia, which could help assure Nestle - and other licensees, current or future - that it is in a position to meet demand.