DSM increases nutrigenomics investment

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Metabolic syndrome, Nutrition, Nutrigenomics

DSM has invested €2m in Finnish genetic research company Jurilab Oy
- a move which reinforces the Dutch group's commitment to
expanding further into personalized nutrition.

The group said this morning that Jurilab is an "industrial leader" into identifying genetic markers associated with metabolic syndrome, and added that the long term aim of the deal was to develop "innovative nutritional products" to fit individual consumers' genetic profiles. However, it is not yet clear whether the entire investment is aimed purely at metabolic syndrome research. A year ago DSM and Jurilab began a joint discovery program in the area of hypertension. Jurilab specializes in the discovery of gene-disease associations and their application to healthcare, which falls into the fledgling science of nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics, a term coined in 1999, is the study of how nutrients and genes interact and how genetic variations can cause people to respond differently to food nutrients. One of the aims of the science is to use genetic testing to be able to tell people which kinds of foods and supplements they need to take in order to reduce the risk of certain diseases. Many scientists believe that one day it could bring big changes to the way food is grown, processed and consumed. However, nutrigenomics also raises many ethical questions about the privacy aspects of personalised foods and diets, genetic testing and the potential high cost of new functional foods. Last month the European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGO) published a set of guidelines to advise scientists in some of the ethical issues surround nutrigenomics, such as the storage of genetic data, with the long-term aim to produce a European standard. DSM Venturing, the venturing unit of Royal DSM, has already spent some €5.4m investing in the American nutrigenomics firm Sciona, and has also pledged cash to Intergragen, after identifying personal nutrition as one of the four emerging business areas outlined in its Vision 2010 plan. Vision 2010 is aimed at preparing the company for market needs beyond 2010. As part of the strategy, unveiled in October 2005, DSM has set the ambitious aim of €1bn in sales from innovation by the end of the decade. Jurilab claims to be leading the way in the identification of metabolic disease markers and pathways, drug targets and diagnostic content associated with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterised by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and CVD. A company spokesman said: "These are all conditions with a high incidence, creating a major healthcare concern which is expected to grow even further with the ageing of the population and increasing health and wellness awareness. "Jurilab's discovery programs have resulted in dozens of patent applications covering thousands of disease or trait genes." ​ Timothy Morck, vice president EBA personalized nutrition added: "We are pleased with this investment. Jurilab's unique access to a genetically homogeneous population and a related comprehensive databank make the company's approach faster, more informative and more cost-effective than many traditional screening approaches."

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